Senior running back Deo'Vonte Doe making most of first year with Hilton Head Christian

ccox@islandpacket.comNovember 6, 2013 

Thomas Sumter Academy's Austin Hudson vainly pursues HHCA's Deo'Vonte Doe as he rumbles in for a touchdown in the third quarter of Friday night's game.

JAY KARR — Staff photo Buy Photo

Deo'Vonte Doe is running late.

The senior tailback at Hilton Head Christian Academy jogs out to the Eagles football field, where his teammates have been warming up for some time. He pulls down his practice jersey, preparing to join his team as it aims for another state championship run.

"We're definitely on the cusp," he says of the Eagles' prospects while fiddling with his helmet. " ... It's in our hands, definitely. We know we can go and get that ring."

Hilton Head Christian will need Doe to keep running if it hopes to add a third consecutive SCISAA title to its trophy case. But the truth is, the former Ridgeland-Hardeeville standout has never really stopped since his high school career began.

The blue and gold Eagles practice uniform Doe slides on during this chilly November practice is the third one of his football career. He started as a Hardeeville Hurricane, moved over to play for the Jaguars after the school consolidated with Ridgeland, then opted to transfer to Hilton Head Christian for his final year.

His father, LeNeal Doe, first tried to sway his son to join the Eagles before his junior year. His sister, Ziarre, had starred for the Hilton Head Christian basketball team and was beginning to flourish at her school, but Deo'Vonte shied away from leaving his football team and the prospects of new friendships as the two schools merged.

He ran for 1,248 yards and 13 touchdowns last season for Ridgeland-Hardeeville, as he and the Jaguars earned the school's first playoff bid. But for whatever reason -- environment, academics, football -- Doe found himself in search of something more.

"It didn't turn out so well," he said. "So I was like, 'Let's try out Christian for my senior year.' It turned out to be a good decision."

He conceded to his father's wishes, transferred to Hilton Head Christian and began preparations for his final high school football season. It didn't start out swimmingly, though. Off the field, Doe initially struggled to keep up with the school's academic workload while on the field the Eagles sputtered out of the gate to an 0-2 record under new coach Ryan Mitch.

Quarterback Brad Meccariello and a host of others tried to guide their tailback as he adjusted to his new surroundings.

"I moved over here in sixth grade and I knew what it felt like," Meccariello said. "I took on getting him accustomed to things and getting used to the school. It's similar, but it's different."

The senior eventually got a handle on his classwork. He got an even stronger handle, however, on the outmanned SCISAA defenses that tried to bring him down every Friday night. Behind Doe's speedy legs, the Eagles reeled off seven consecutive wins to finish the regular season and earned homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Hilton Head Christian opens the postseason Friday against Thomas Sumter.

Doe led the way through most of the regular season charge, as he churned out 1,439 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in just nine games.

"He's been a big deal for us this year, just because he can get outside and once he gets outside he's gone," Mitch said. "But he's a great, tough runner between the tackles. ... He's been great for us and our offense."

"He's electrifying to watch," Meccariello added.

Doe will look to cross the 2,000-yard threshold over the next three weeks, as the Eagles try to conclude another season atop SCISAA 2-A.

"It's definitely exciting," Doe said, smiling. "My mom asked me what I wanted to get as my class ring. I'm like, 'I don't want a ring. I want to get a championship ring."

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