High School Football

Week 9 preview: Hilton Head High facing another tough region game

ccox@islandpacket.comOctober 25, 2013 

There are no Shrine Bowlers listed on the Hanahan roster. There are no FBS recruits for Hilton Head Island High School coach B.J. Payne to pay special attention to.

The Hawks are simply a smart, well-coached team that will give the Seahawks all they can handle Friday night in a game that likely will determine the Region 8-AAA champion.

"They're really good," Payne said in anticipation of Friday's showdown. "Their thing is they just execute so well in all aspects of the game. They're not the biggest team we'll face, they might not be the fastest team we face. But they execute in all aspects."

The Hawks enter at 8-0 and No. 2 in the Class 3-A rankings. They have won their first eight games by an average margin of 35 points and have shut out three opponents to date, including region rival Berkeley.

It doesn't help matters that Hilton Head High now faces an uphill climb to a postseason home game, thanks in part to last week's struggles at Orangeburg-Wilkinson.

"That was a wake up call," freshman tailback Tyler Hamilton said. "We know we have to switch gears."

The Seahawks will do so against a team that pounded them 63-28 last year en route to an 11-2 record.

"They don't have a Clowney on their team," Payne said, "but they have a ton of really, really, really good high school football players."

The Seahawks (7-1, 2-1) have their share of good high school football players, too. The only problem is lately a handful of them have spent more time in the training room than out on the practice field.

Quarterback Ben Oliff won't play this week due to a leg injury suffered in last week's 33-7 blowout loss to Orangeburg-Wilkinson. Sophomore Aiden Hegarty -- who started the season opener against Whale Branch Early College High School before succombing to an injury of his own -- will go in his place.

Second-leading receiver Ja'Carri Aiken won't play due to a concussion, and running back Khalil Lewis, who has rushed for 1,250 yards and 20 touchdowns, will be a gametime decision with a high ankle sprain.

"We're still dinged up in some areas but we're still going to play," Payne said. "If we play well we're going to be right where we should be. But there's a reason they're the No. 2 team in the state. There's a reason they're 8-0."

One positive piece of news Payne received this week was on leading receiver Aaron Frazier. The junior had his ejection from last week overturned by the S.C. High School League. He is 49 yards shy of setting the school's single-season receiving record and 13 catches short of establishing a new receptions record.

Payne is using anything he can to lift up his Seahawks after last week's 33-7 loss, their first of the season.

"The mood's been good," he said. "(Orangeburg-Wilkinson) was one of those eye-openers, maybe something we needed to get that fire back. The kids know. We came in on Sunday night and we let them know, 'Hey, we're facing a good team.' "

And yet, the Seahawks' ultimate goal remains in reach.

"We have to stay on task and do what we need to do and just know our assignments," Hamilton said. "They're a pretty good team. They have some returning seniors, but that doesn't really bother us because we know we have to play our best to get a win."

FRIDAY'S OTHER GAMES

Bluffton (5-3, 1-1 Region 8-AAAA) at Fort Dorchester (5-3, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Bluffton 27, Fort Dorchester 26 (2012)

The skinny: The Bobcats remain in "must-win mode," coach Ken Cribb said, as Bluffton hopes to continue its strong finish in order to qualify for the Class 4-A playoffs. Three region wins should get the job done, Cribb believes, meaning a win over the Patriots is essential. The Bobcats won by 1 on a blocked field on the last play of the game in 2012.

Players to watch: WR Terrance Heyward had emerged as the go-to threat for the Bobcats in recent weeks, but the sophomore will be out Friday night with a knee injury. Fellow WR Jack Aerni will likely be the top target in his place, as he has hauled in five touchdowns so far this year. CB Jae Middleton, who moved over from offense midseason, recorded a pair of interceptions against Ashley Ridge and will see increased snaps there again with Heyward out.

Keys to the game: The Bobcats won the turnover battle against Ashley Ridge, a rarity this season for the youthful team that has been prone to giving the ball away at times. Doing it against and Fort Dorchester will be key. Cribb is merely looking for his team to "play well on both sides" against a Patriots club whose only losses have come to Stratford, Goose Creek and Summerville.

Burke (0-8, 0-5 Region 6-AA) at Battery Creek (3-5, 2-3), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Battery Creek 71, Burke 25 (2012)

The skinny: The Dolphins defeated North Charleston in Week 8 on the final play of the game. Battery Creek is tied for fourth in Region 6-AA at 2-3 with Garrett Academy Tech, which plays at 4-1 Ridgeland Hardeeville on Friday. With victories in the final two games, Battery Creek would finish the regular season at .500 for a second consecutive year.

Players to watch: With transfer Josh Roberts no longer part of the team, sophomore Tyrone Dilbert has re-emerged as the Dolphins' secondary rushing threat to Yuneek Crittendon. Defensive back Raheem Cooper intercepted a pass last week and is the primary target of Battery Creek's halfback pass.

Keys to the game: Injuries have plagued Battery Creek all season. The Dolphins want to emerge healthy from what should be a sure victory and close the season as close to full strength as possible.

Whale Branch (3-5, 3-1 Region 5-A) at St. John's (5-3, 3-0 Region 6-A), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Whale Branch 36, St. John's 12 (2012)

The skinny: Non-region game for the Warriors. Whale Branch has won its past two games, against Bethune-Bowman and Branchville, by a combined 95-6. St. John's has won four consecutive games.

Players to watch: Whale Branch defensive linemen Treyvon Bryan and Nyles Pinckney have combined for 32 tackles for loss. Marlon Williams leads the team with five sacks.

Keys to the game: St. John's was susceptible to the pass during the Warriors' victory in 2012, although Whale Branch had the playmaking ability of Dee Delaney at receiver. With Devonta Glover now at receiver, the Warriors will have to find their offensive balance and continue to rely on a solid defensive group.

James Island Christian (7-0, 5-0 SCISAA 8-Man Region 2) at Beaufort Academy (5-3, 4-1) , 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: James Island 46, Beaufort Academy 16 (2012)

The skinny: Beaufort Academy coach Brock Vaigneur called this game the biggest his players have played. James Island averages 51 points and close to 500 yards per game. The Eagles will try to spread the field and show different looks offensively if James Island keys on Reyn Robinson.

Players to watch: The Eagles will count on freshman Christopher Boggs to provide an extra offensive punch. James Island QB Josh Black has thrown for 933 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 1,200 yards and 23 scores. Teammate Jonathan Hickman has rushed for more than 600 yards and eight touchdowns and has caught 21 balls for 649 yards and six scores.

Keys to the game: This will be the Eagles' toughest defensive assignment yet. Beaufort Academy will have to find someone in the defensive backfield who can keep up with Hickman and must find a way to slow Black in the run game. Buckle up.

Hilton Head Christian (5-2, 2-0 Region 2-AA) at Palmetto Christian (5-2, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: HHCA 41, Palmetto Christian 18 (2012)

The skinny: The Eagles are coming off their biggest win of the coach Ryan Mitch era, as HHCA cruised past rival Thomas Heyward last Friday, 45-14. A win over Palmetto Christian would give the Eagles their sixth straight victory and bring them one step closer to homefield advantage throughout the SCISAA playoffs.

Players to watch: RB Deo'Vonte Doe rushed for 190 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries last week. Reese Dolyniuk was the goal line threat against THA, carrying six times for 14 yards and two touchdowns. For PCA, eighth grader Cale Lewis will likely get the start at QB if J.T. Waters is unable to play. The senior, who has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns, didn't play last week in a loss to Northwood.

Keys to the game: If Waters is unable to go, the Eagles defense will have to get after a younger signal-caller in Lewis. Constant pressure could lead to some mistakes, which HHCA will have to capitalize on with the ground game duo of Doe and QB Brad Meccariello.

St. Andrew's (Ga). (1-7) at Hilton Head Prep (4-4), 4 p.m.

Last meeting: Hilton Head Prep 35, St. Andrew's 14 (2012)

The skinny: At 0-3 in Region 2-AA, the Dolphins are likely out of the playoff picture for the second consecutive year. But coach Kevin Wald and Co. are still urging their team to stay upbeat. "Until the state tells us we're out, we're going to play as if we're trying to get in," he said. The Dolphins are going for their second straight victory and will hope to gain some momentum heading into next week's series finale with rival HHCA.

Players to watch: RB Teron Daley has been the workhorse for Prep this year and will likely carry the load once again on Friday. The offensive line has blocked well of late, Wald said, and defenders Keylan Hanna and Logan Mallett have also had strong games in recent weeks.

Keys to the game: The Dolphins can't lose focus against a 1-7 team, despite the fact that Prep is likely out of the postseason picture once again. Prep must keep with the theme of the season and continue to ride Daley to the victory while also playing well on defense, which has been a struggle at times.

Thomas Heyward Academy (6-3, 1-1 SCISAA Region 2-AA) at Northwood Academy (6-2, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Thomas Heyward 42, Northwood 27 (2012)

The skinny: Coming off a loss to rival Hilton Head Christian, the Rebels face another good offensive team. a win would go a long way toward securing a home playoff game. A loss would make that goal tough to attain.

Players to watch: The Rebels need their starting linebackers to step up and get their defense off the field. Seth Jones, Brodie Etheridge, Jared Rountree and Zach Belger have to tackle better in the open field and make plays.

Keys to the game: "We've got to do a better job on defense of making plays," said Rebels coach Nic Shuford. The Chargers mix up the run almost evenly and make it difficult for opponents to take something away. And on offense, Thomas Heyward has to avoid turnovers. "(Turnovers) kept the Prep game close and shifted momentum in the Hilton Head Christian game," Shuford said. "We have to take better care of the ball."

Garrett Academy Tech (5-3, 2-3 Region 6-AA) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (5-3, 4-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Garrett 38, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 16 (2012)

The skinny: The Jaguars are coming off a 40-20 loss to 8-0 Woodland that they led entering the fourth quarter. Ridgeland-Hardeevlle must regroup and beat a team it lost to last season if it hopes to host a playoff game.

Players to watch: Jaguars QB Derrell Myers had his first two-interception game since the start of region play. His ability to move the ball through the air is needed to help open the passing game.

Keys to the game: The Jaguars were held to less than 200 yards of total offense against Woodland. They have to find a way to move the ball and score more points against Garrett. Ridgeland-Hardeeville also turned the ball over four times against Woodland, a recipe for disaster. The Jaguars must secure the ball.

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