High Schools

Hilton Head Christian sending 4 stars to next level

mmccombs@islandpacket.comApril 4, 2014 

Zack Polk's father rarely got to see his son compete in high school.

While the two-time 2013 SCISAA state champion in track and field was competing in the Lowcountry for Hilton Head Christian Academy, his father was in Ohio.

"Because of my dad's work, he wasn't able to come down with us when we moved," Polk said. "We've been living with grandparents who retired here recently."

It should get a lot easier for Polk's father to see him soon.

Polk has signed a letter of intent to compete for Cincinnati's Xavier University in track and field. He was one of four HHCA athletes who will go on to compete in college who were honored Thursday in a ceremony at the school.

Multi-sport star Brad Meccariello will play football at Furman, running back Deovonte Doe will play football at Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., and Hampton Drake, who signed in November, will play tennis at Clemson.

It's not just the proximity to family in Cleveland that drew Polk to the Big East school.

"It's just the community at Xavier," Polk said. "It was amazing."

Polk won the 2013 SCISAA state titles in the long jump (21 feet, 7 inches) and the high jump (6-0) and he is a four-time Junior Olympic qualifier. His specialty for Xavier, where he will study pre-med, will be the long jump.

Meccariello took his time before deciding on Furman, where he will play safety.

"I didn't want to rush anything," Meccariello said. "If I'd known, I'd have committed a long time ago."

Meccariello helped lead the Eagles to three straight SCISAA Class 2-A football championship games and back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 as a running back, quarterback and defensive stalwart.

The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette all-area second-team quarterback visited the Greenville campus in February for the first time.

"I just fell in love with the campus and the academics," Meccariello said. "Great people and great coaches."

Meccariello will attend Furman, where he will join longtime rival J.D. Tuten of Thomas Heyward Academy, on a combination of academic and athletic scholarships.

Doe's path wasn't as easy as those of Meccariello or Polk.

He had an offer from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne, but it slipped away.

"I came up a little short on my SAT," Doe said. "So I had to go out in search of some schools."

Doe said his father sent out some film of his play and got responses quickly. The former Ridgeland-Hardeeville star who transferred prior to his senior season said he chose Methodist because they ran the spread and "have what I want to major in -- physical therapy."

Doe, a 1,700-yard rusher in the fall for the Eagles, won't be on an athletic scholarship at Methodist since its a Division III program.

Under first-year head coach C.J. Goss, the Monarchs were 8-2 in the fall, their first winning season since 2005.

Work ethic is the area Doe said he could stand to improve as he transitions to the college game.

"I need to push myself harder, knowing there are people out there that are better than me," Doe said. "I can push myself to be better."

For Drake, the idea of playing for Clemson would have been quite a foreign one not too long ago.

The five-star recruit ranked No. 3 in South Carolina and 39th nationally, actually grew up a South Carolina Gamecocks fan.

"I just wanted to get away from home and after looking around, I felt like Clemson was the best place for me," Drake said. "The school spirit was just amazing. When I got there, I just felt like it was where I was supposed to be."

The Smith Stearns student said he would need to hit the gym to prepare for the more physical college game.

"They make a lot fewer errors, and then there's the age difference," Drake said. "In high school, you might be an 18-year-old facing a 16-year-old. But in college, you might be an 18-year-old facing a 22-year-old and, physically, the difference can be huge. Size difference really matters when you get in the college game."

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