High School Football

Week 2 preview: Rivals Battery Creek, Whale Branch meet for trophy

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 6, 2013 

Whale Branch Early College High School football coaches easily labeled plays this week preparing for rival Battery Creek High School.

The Warriors run the same ones. Split backs, quick pitch, trap -- the similarities between the offenses on Dolphin Field on Friday night will be striking.

"They're kind of a mirror football team of us," Whale Branch coach Jerry Hatcher said. "They want to pound that thing and not make mistakes and play good defense."

Said Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman: "We're preparing almost like playing ourselves in a lot of ways."

The Dolphins (0-1) will try to claim the game's tall trophy, which has been on display in the front office at Whale Branch since the Warriors' 13-7 victory in the inaugural meeting. Whale Branch (0-2) will bring the trophy on the short bus trip and the winner will be presented the rivalry's reward on the field following the game.

Both teams will have to overcome injuries to earn their first victory.

Battery Creek quarterback Raekwon Smalls is out indefinitely with an injured knee. Zach Mahan will start on Friday after Malik Morgan earned the start in Week 1.

Shuman again will be without offensive linemen Paul Sanchez and Alex Nelson.

Whale Branch defensive end Sonja Jones is lost for the season after breaking his leg Wednesday during practice. Jones had four tackles for loss and a fumble recovery during last week's defeat against Hilton Head Island High School. Hatcher moved the freshman to linebacker this week and now will have to ready a replacement on short notice.

Hatcher said the Warriors are wary of Battery Creek running back Yuneek Crittendon, who scored twice during the Dolphins' loss at Estill in Week 1.

"He can make you miss," Hatcher said. "And if he makes you miss, he can take it to the house."

Shuman said the Dolphins played well at Estill, a late failed two-point conversion attempt the only thing keeping the game from overtime.

And he doesn't feel the Warriors' losses, to two larger schools, are indicative of their potential.

"It's almost like a clean slate for both of us Friday night," Shuman said.

TONIGHT'S OTHER GAMES

Hilton Head High (1-0) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (1-0), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Hilton Head High 54, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 12 (2012)

The skinny: The Seahawks are 1-0 for the first time since 1999, as a 52-16 win over Whale Branch in Week 1 snapped a streak of 13 consecutive season-opening losses. Hilton Head High hasn't been 2-0 since 1991. Ridgeland-Hardeeville is coming off a comeback win two weeks ago over Savannah Country Day.

Players to watch: Seahawks CBs Jon Baty and Jestin Morrow will be asked to do much more this week against the spread offense Jaguars than they were a week ago against the run-heavy Warriors. For Ridgeland-Hardeeville, the defense must continue to play well, and senior QB D.J. Myers has to be solid. While two of his four picks in Week Zero were likely the fault of hs receivers, the other two were the result of poor decisions on his part.

Keys to the game: The front four for Hilton Head High must establish the line of scrimmage against the Jaguars offense, thus allowing coach B.J. Payne to do much more with the seven behind them. The Seahawks young secondary will need all the help they can get this season as they continue to learn the position. Ridgeland-Hardeeville's defense made several key stops and forced six turnovers two weeks ago. But the unit will be tested against the Seahawks and must play tough.

A.C. Flora (0-2) at Bluffton (1-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Bluffton 34, A.C. Flora 30 (2010)

The skinny: Friday's game marks the first time these two teams have played since the Bobcats won a 44-35 shootout in the 2011 playoffs to advance to the Class 3-A state championship game. Bluffton is coming off a 23-20 loss to South Effingham, the first under coach Ken Cribb in August, who had been 17-0 during the first two months of the season in four years with the program.

Players to watch: DT K.J. Ford will not play due to a broken finger, Cribb said. His line mate, DE Shameik Blackshear, however, will play. The USC commit sat out last week's game with a shoulder injury, but is now cleared provided he can tolerate the pain.

Keys to the game: Bluffton made a bevy of mistakes in Friday's loss, and Cribb's team spent the majority of the early week simply watching film. How much they are able to correct their problems will decide this one, as A.C. Flora has lost two hard-fought battles in the first two weeks, including on a game-winning field goal on the final play last week against Gilbert.

Beaufort High (1-0) at Aiken (0-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Beaufort 48, Aiken 13 (2012)

The skinny: The game begins four weeks of road games for the Eagles. Aiken lost 35-7 to Class 2-A Silver Bluff in Week 1. Aiken coach Brian Neal is in his first season with the Green Hornets after leading McCormick to the Class 1-A Division II state championship.

Players to watch: Beaufort High RB Jeffrey Tookes could have a heavier load with Tarquez Johnson out with injury. Eagles LB T.J. Watts is a gametime decision. Aiken's Dramel Coleman averaged 6 yards per carry in Week 1 and caught four passes for 27 yards.

Keys to the game: The only issues that stood out to Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford in Week 1 were the Eagles' four turnovers in the second half. He believes Beaufort High has the better team. Giving up the football would be a quick way to offset that.

Hilton Head Prep (1-0) at Laurence Manning (2-0), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Laurence Manning 33, Hilton Head Prep 13 (2012)

The skinny: The Dolphins are coming off a 28-7 victory over Colleton Prep and are looking for their second 2-0 start in three seasons.

Players to watch: The Swampcats feature a one-two punch in the ground game in Rashae Bey (10 carries, 141 yards, TD last week) and Tyshawn Epps (9 carries, 109 yards, 2 TD last week). Keeping them off the field will fall to Prep RB Teron Daley, who netted 108 yards and two scores on 11 carries last week.

Keys to the game: Colleton Prep played keepaway with the Dolphins a week ago, as the Warhawks' run game limited Prep to just nine first down and 40 fewer plays. The Dolphins may see a similiar strategy this week against a Laurence Manning team that rushed 44 times for 330 yards a week ago, according to the Clarendon Citizen. Getting the Swampcats off the field and getting the Dolphins offense back out there will be pivotal.

Hilton Head Christian (0-1) at Bible Baptist (2-0), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Hilton Head Christian 36, Bible Baptist 22 (2012)

The skinny: The Eagles try again for their first win under new coach Ryan Mitch, as HHCA dropped its season opener two weeks ago to SCISAA Class 3-A power Hammond School. Friday's game wraps up a two-game road swing before HHCA hosts its home opener next Friday against Dorchester Academy.

Players to watch: Eagles RB DeAngelo Clark had a long 47-yard TD run against the Skyhawks while QB Brad Meccariello ran two more in. HHCA may try to push the issue in the run game to keep Bible Baptist QB Keynnard Campbell off the field, who has thrown for 695 yards and 10 TDs while rushing for 453 yards and five TDs in just two games this season.

Keys to the game: Mitch said the Eagles defense became exhausted two weeks ago against Hammond, which rolled up 467 yards of offense. HHCA allowed a 100-yard rusher and nearly 300 yards in the passing game. The task doesn't get any easier this week against the dual-threat Campbell, whose team posted 88 points last week against Thomas Heyward. Keeping he and the Braves offense off the field will give the Eagles a chance.

Calhoun Academy (1-0) at Thomas Heyward Academy (0-2), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Thomas Heyward Academy 46, Calhoun Academy 35 (2007)

The skinny: The Rebels took a beating at the hands of QB Keynnard Campbell and Bible Baptist last week, surrendering 88 points. They're looking for their first win, but face another solid team this week.

Players to watch: The Rebels need someone -- anyone -- to step up and make an impact on defense, while they continue to improve on offense. The task got tougher with the loss of junior OL/DL Jessie McKenzie to a knee injury.

Keys to the game: Thomas Heyward coach Nic Shuford said the Cavaliers aren't "as explosive" as the Rebels' first two opponents, but said they, "play right, worry about the details and get after you." If there's a bright spot in last week's debacle, it's that Thomas Heyward actually scored 47 points. "We've got to pick up where we left off on offense," Shuford said. "And on defense, we've got to be disciplined and do our jobs."

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