High School Football

Week 6 preview: Now the schedule gets tough for Beaufort High

Eagles host Goose Creek in matchup of unbeatens Friday night

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comOctober 4, 2013 

The Beaufort High School football team probably knows the perception.

"Preseason's over, right?" Eagles coach Mark Clifford said Thursday.

After surviving a four-game road trip and surging to a 5-0 start, the Eagles return home to welcome Goose Creek. The Gators are also 5-0 and haven't lost a game on any field since 2011.

Clifford said the Eagles will continue to prepare as they have each week.

"There's no doubt they're tough, and they're a great football team, but that shouldn't affect how we play," Clifford said. "We play hard, we play fast, and we execute well."

"We just have to play our game and not let that affect us."

After Goose Creek, Beaufort High plays host to Bluffton to start Region 8-AAAA and travels to Summerville on Oct. 18. The schedule doesn't get easier.

But the Eagles have some momentum behind an offensive clicking behind some new wrinkles and a defense with a pair of shutouts through five games.

Eagles running back Eric Blakely has rushed for 600 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior quarterback Ben Vaigneur is 26 of 46 passing, for 430 yards and five touchdowns.

Vaigneur also has rushed for two scores, a product of the shotgun formation the Eagles added this year, which has opened running lanes.

"I think any time you kind of have a run that we've had, you start meshing more," Vaigneur said. "You just keep your mind on the objective."

"Whenever adversity hits, you just stay together and keep being a team."

On defense, the Eagles' task is Goose Creek's option game.

Gators quarterback Dantez Bennamon scored on touchdown runs of 57 and 83 yards during his team's victory over Dutch Fork on Sept. 27. The Gators rushed for almost 500 yards as a team.

"They throw the ball, too," Clifford said. "He does the same kind of thing I do -- He kind of makes people think they don't throw the ball and don't like to throw the ball, but they throw. They enjoy throwing."

The Eagles said they had grown accustomed to their routine on the road.

Beaufort High has averaged 29.8 points per game. Clifford wants the team to maintain the same routine, no matter the opponent.

"We're always going to do exactly what we do," Vaigneur said. "We don't deviate. We stay true to who we are, we know who we are, and we're comfortable with it."

FRIDAY'S OTHER GAMES

Battery Creek (2-3, 1-1 Region 6-AA) at Bishop England (3-2, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Bishop England 42, Battery Creek 21 (2012)

The skinny: Battery Creek is coming off a 28-26 loss to Ridgeland-Hardeeville, a Thursday night game. Bishop England has victories over Porter-Gaud, Academic Magnet and North Charleston since opening the season with consecutive losses. The Bishops are back-to-back Class 2-A Division II state champions.

Players to watch: Battery Creek WR Raheem Cooper has emerged as a big-play threat. He caught a touchdown pass and returned a kick for a score during the loss to Ridgeland-Hardeeville. Bishops senior Nick Shiver caught a touchdown pass, ran for a score and returned an interception for a touchdown during his team's victory over North Charleston last week.

Keys to the game: The Dolphins will have to stop the run. Shiver is the latest in a line of talented Bishop-England running backs. Last year, senior DeAngelo Stephenson ran for four touchdowns against Battery Creek while the Bishops rushed for almost 400 yards as a team. It will be up to experienced linebackers Isaiah Sloan and Jason Green to make sure the Dolphins' defense is in position to stop Shiver.

Beaufort Academy (3-2, 2-1 SCISAA 8-Man Region I) at Coastal Christian (0-5, 0-3), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Coastal Christian 44, Beaufort Academy 8 (2012)

The skinny: Coastal Christian averages 18.4 points per game and has allowed 59.8 points per game through the first five weeks. Beaufort Academy lost 50-36 at Charleston Collegiate on Sept. 27 to end a two-game win streak.

Players to watch: Beaufort Academy RB Reyn Robinson added to his already ridiculous totals during a Week 5 loss to Charleston Collegiate. He rushed for 232 yards and two scores and also returned a kickoff for a score.

Keys to the game: For the Eagles, finish strong. Beaufort Academy led at halftime last week before losing to Charleston Collegiate. Coastal Christian is a team it should beat, if it can close out the game.

Hilton Head High (5-0) at Stall (1-4), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Hilton Head High 46, Stall 35 (2012)

The skinny: The Seahawks enter Region 8-AAA play coming off arguably their biggest win in recent memory, a 33-32 upset victory over rival Bluffton. A win over Stall would give Hilton Head High an early leg up in the region race and deliver coach B.J. Payne and Co. the school's first 6-0 start since 1987.

Players to watch: For Stall, Jordan Carswell has moved back to wide receiver following a brief one-year stint at quarterback last season. He accounted for 348 total yards and five touchdowns against the Seahawks a year ago and will likely be the best receiver Hilton Head High faces all year, Payne said. The task to defend him will likely fall to CB Jon Baty, who sealed the victory over Bluffton last week with an interception in the final minute.

Keys to the game: It is all about staying focused this week for the Seahawks, who can't avoid a letdown follow last week's Bridge Bowl victory. The usual things should deliver a solid start in region play: run TB Khalil Lewis and dominate the opposing offensive line with DT Poona Ford.

Thomas Sumter (0-5) at Hilton Head Christian (2-2), 7 p.m.

Last meeting: HHCA 31, Thomas Sumter 14 (2012)

The skinny: The Eagles are coming off their second bye week of the early season, having played just four games in six weeks. They will look to run their win streak to three after an 0-2 start.

Players to watch: Junior LB Luke Higgs led the team with 12 tackles an interception in the Eagles' most recent win, a 48-41 triumph over Northwood. It was his first game since eighth grade, coach Ryan Mitch said. The usual trio of Brad Meccariello, Deo'Vonte Doe and DeAngelo Clark will look to lead HHCA on the ground again out if its new diamond formation offense.

Keys to the game: The Eagles continue to work on tackling and fundamentals, as the two have plagued HHCA throughout the season. Improved performance in both aspects, including limiting the heaps of penalties that have stalled their offensive in recent weeks, should lead to a victory over the winless Generals.

Hilton Head Prep (2-3) at Calhoun Academy (3-2), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Hilton Head Prep 31, Calhoun Academy 14 (2012)

The skinny: The Dolphins are looking to get back to .500 before embarking on their biggest and most important stretch of the season. Coach Kevin Wald is hoping to get into the SCISAA playoffs after missing it in his first season with the program, and a win over the Cavaliers would go a long way in accomplishing that.

Players to watch: LB Keylan Hanna and CB Sean O'Connor both had arguably their best games of the year last week against Northwood, Wald said. Prep will need both to play assignment football against the Calhoun Academy offense, which runs a triple option scheme that can give opposing defenses fits.

Keys to the game: A Dolphins win will hinge on slowing down the Cavaliers option offense. The Prep defense has given up 97 points over its last two games and will need an improved performance to give their offense a chance. Wald said last season's 17-point win over Calhoun Academy was the Dolphins' best game of the season, so look for another big night out of Prep once again.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville (3-2, 2-0 Region 5-A) at Academic Magnet (2-3, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Ridgeland-Hardeeville 42, Academic Magnet 21 (2012)

The skinny: According to Jaguars coach Blake Raley, the "biggest challenge for us is avoiding an emotional roll coaster after last week. Our focus is getting to 3-0 in the region and continuing to improve each week."

Players to watch: Academic Magnet is led by QB Logan Chuy and Nate Scholsser. The Raptors line Scholsser up everywhere -- he has 543 yards rushing and 175 yards receiving. Jaguars QB D.J. Myers has progressed nicely since the start of region play. In two games, he has 306 total yards with seven touchdowns and no turnovers. Freshmen LB Malik Bostick has 18 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception over the last two games.

Keys to the game: The Jaguars need to continue to be effective and efficient on offense, while staying on assignment and executing on defense. Ridgeland-Hardeeville needs to make big plays on special teams instead of having big plays made against them (It had a punt blocked and a kickoff returned for a score last week.) But this is a game the Jaguars should win.

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