It's becoming quite apparent that something happened to the Beaufort High School football team Sept. 10 in North Charleston, something more than a heart-breaking 34-29 loss to Fort Dorchester.
The Eagles' defense caught a lot of heat in the week following, suddenly becoming not only the scapegoat for a tough Region 8-AAAA loss, but also the glaring weakness on an otherwise promising football team.
The Eagles' defense didn't like that very much.
"We couldn't let it happen again," junior defensive end DeEndre Jefferson-Fields said.
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It's only been three weeks since that night, but in their past three games, the Eagles have allowed only 12 points -- and none over their past two games, Beaufort High's first back-to-back shutouts since blanking Battery Creek and Hilton Head High on consecutive weeks in 2005.
This year's defense doesn't have the kind of stars the Eagles have boasted on that side of the ball in recent years. There is no Devin Taylor or Jimmy Legree or Duane Chisolm or Justin Parker, as far as I can tell, no one who will draw attention from big-time programs in the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference.
But there is something else there, something that might have been lacking in the past. It isn't entirely tangible, but this unit seems to possess a collective relentlessness.
And a bit of a mean streak.
"After Fort D. we kind of got an attitude," sophomore outside linebacker JaClay Mixon said. "We said we were going to play with aggression every game, so we played with aggression this game and last game. It really showed."
It manifested itself in the form of eight consecutive scoreless quarters. Last week's shutout at West Ashley was impressive enough, but the Eagles outdid themselves Friday, shutting out a James Island team that came to town averaging 38.1 points per game.
They made highly-touted quarterback Bo Patterson look ordinary, keeping him under pressure and containing him when he was flushed from the pocket. They sacked Patterson six times and didn't allow him to rush for more than nine yards on any of his 22 carries.
Patterson's stats -- he managed only 101 total yards, which was 136 yards below his season average -- certainly were hurt by several dropped passes, but the Eagles deserve partial credit for many of those, too, because the idea that they were waiting to deliver big hits prompted more than a few of them.
"The big thing about what we did (Friday) is it was the most physical game we've had all year," Eagles coach Mark Clifford said. "I think these kids love the physical nature of the game, and I definitely thought it was our most physical game."
So far. They seem to be enjoying themselves too much to stop there.