Sensing his team needed some perspective, a reason to be wary, Mark Clifford told his players a story after practice Wednesday.
In 2004, Clifford was in his first season as Beaufort High School's football coach. His team was 10-0 entering its game with rival Battery Creek, which was 1-9.
"The kids were saying we should smash them," Clifford said. "I was saying, 'Shut up.' I knew they were a good football team."
The Eagles won, 28-27, only after a late scoring drive. Clifford's worry was validated.
And this week, after watching film of Battery Creek's victory over Estill last week, Clifford sensed a similar need for his team to be cautious when the rivalry is renewed at 7:30 tonight at Eagle Stadium.
Clifford praised the Dolphins' defense, headed by former Eagles offensive line coach David Fess. He said Battery Creek defenders looked organized and in the correct spots.
"A lot of people change their defenses just for us," Clifford said. "He has a great scheme. I hope he does change."
Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman said the Dolphins were still focused on the fundamentals a week after their breakthrough victory. The Dolphins had an extra day to begin preparation after last week's games were moved up.
Shuman said his players know what they're up against, but have added confidence after opening with a victory.
"We know Beaufort is going to be fast and strong," he said. "We're preparing to take that on."
Shuman said the Dolphins were preparing for "quick-hitting, well-executed play," no doubt a nod to the Eagles' fast start last week against Hilton Head High. Beaufort High scored on its first three offensive plays -- touchdown runs of 35 and 77 yards by D'Vonta Cohen and a 1-yard Ryan Allen plunge after the Eagles recovered a fumble deep in Seahawks territory.
Shuman said the Dolphins are completely healthy this week. Clifford said Eagles defensive back Davonte Green probably will be held out another week. He said junior defensive lineman Tyler Hatfield, injured last week, could miss five weeks.
Hardeeville (0-1) at Bluffton (2-0), 7:30 p.m.
The skinny: The Bobcats have looked unstoppable in the first two weeks of the season, outscoring Hilton Head High and Ridgeland 136-14. The Hurricanes, though, were the only team to slow down Bluffton's offense in last year's regular season, and they actually carried a 6-0 lead into halftime before the Bobcats came back for a 25-6 win.
Last week: Hardeeville lost 14-0 to Beach (Ga.), Bluffton defeated Ridgeland 60-14
Players to watch: It hasn't taken quarterback C.J. Frazier long to find comfort in Bluffton's pistol offense. He has 499 yards and seven touchdowns in two weeks, both tops in the area. Hardeeville linebacker Dominque Riley needs to play at his usual high level to give the Hurricanes a chance at getting some defensive stops.
Key to the game: Bluffton has a bevy of receivers, but the Hurricanes possess a very athletic secondary that can make plays. The winner of this matchup likely will win tonight's game.
Whale Branch (2-0, 0-0 Region 5-A) at Military Magnet (1-0, 0-0 Region 6-A), 7:30 p.m.
The skinny: The Warriors are trying to start 3-0 for a second consecutive season. Their combined margin of victory, through two games, is 47 points. Last season, against the same opponents, it was 14. Whale Branch defeated Military Magnet 18-0 last year at home.
Last week: Whale Branch defeated Hunter-Kinard-Tyler 48-12; Military Magnet defeated North Charleston 22-19.
Players to watch: Whale Branch running back John Little might be overshadowed at times by Josh Fields and Andre Watson, but he has proven another capable option for the Warriors early in the season. He rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns during last week's victory. Eagles defensive end Jamell Frasier tallied seven tackles, including a sack, in Week 1.
Key to the game: The Warriors will look to keep it rolling on the ground and control the pace of play. The team rushed for 451 yards during last week's victory against Hunter-Kinard-Tyler. Whale Branch has more weapons this season and has utilized them through two games.
Hilton Head High (0-2, 0-0 Region 7-AAA) at Ridgeland (0-1, 0-0 Region 5-A), 7:30 p.m.
The skinny: Hilton Head High has been outscored 130-0 over the first two weeks of the season and will be playing without head coach Tim Singleton for the second consecutive week. Singleton is serving the final week of a two-week suspension. Ridgeland won 44-33 at Hilton Head High last season. The Jaguars were held to fewer than 100 yards total offense in Week 1.
Last week: Hilton Head High lost 54-0 at Beaufort High; Ridgeland lost 60-14 at Bluffton.
Players to watch: Seahawks receiver Adam Orischak caught six passes for 81 yards in last week's loss. Ridgeland receiver Tyron Mikell gives the Jaguars a downfield threat when they want to change up their ground attack. He hauled in a 23-yard reception last week.
Key to the game: Hilton Head High needs to find a way to keep the chains moving against a physical Ridgeland front-seven. The Seahawks' offensive line will need to win the battle up front for the Seahawks to find the end zone for the first time in three weeks.
St. Andrew's (0-2) at Hilton Head Prep (1-0), 5 p.m.
The skinny: It's far too early to dub any game a must-win, but this one will go a long way toward determining both teams' hopes of earning a playoff spot from SCISAA Region 2-AA. St. Andrew's has won three of the past four meetings, including a 36-26 home victory last season.
Last week: St. Andrew's lost 44-6 at Laurence Manning; Hilton Head Prep won 64-0 at Charleston Collegiate
Players to watch: Three Dolphins running backs -- LJ Orage, Teron Daley and Colin White -- had at least 50 yards and averaged at least seven yards per carry last week, and Jeremy Haidon was 7-for-8 passing for 94 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions return an experienced backfield led by fullback Ashton Johnson and tailback Miles Robertson, who was injured for most of last season, but the offensive production hasn't been there through two games -- St. Andrew's has scored only 12 points.
Key to the game: Prep's revamped offense was effective last week, piling up 264 rushing yards on 23 attempts even without running back Scott D'Amico, and the Dolphins never had to punt. They hope for a repeat performance this week, which would control the clock and keep the Lions' power running game off the field.
Hilton Head Christian (0-1) at Florence Christian (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
The skinny: The good news for Hilton Head Christian is that it beat Florence Christian twice last season, 49-37 in its season opener and 48-28 in the first round of the SCISAA Class 2-A playoffs. The bad news for the Eagles is that most of the key players from that young Florence Christian team are back, while Hilton Head Christian is scrambling to fill some holes left by graduation and injury.
Last week: Hilton Head Christian was idle; Florence Christian lost 25-20 to Byrnes School
Players to watch: The Eagles again will go with freshman Caleb Lewis as their starting quarterback, though sophomore Brad Meccariello also will play there in certain situations, Tommy Lewis said. Florence Christian quarterback Hampton Langston threw two touchdown passes last week, and junior running back James McClary scored on a 53-yard run and a 57-yard reception.
Key to the game: The Eagles' defense did all it could in a season-opening 28-6 loss to Allendale-Fairfax, but they need to get more out of the offense. That might not be easy with starting linemen Nick Borghi and Cory Cheadle out with injuries, along with running back Jamario Williams and receiver DeAngelo Clark.
Bible Baptist (0-1) at Thomas Heyward (6-4 in 2010), 7:30 p.m.
The skinny: After a prolonged wait to start their season, Rebels coach Nic Shuford said his team is "way past ready" to get going against last year's SCISAA Class 1-A runner-up. The Braves lost the title game 43-40 when Dorchester Academy scored a touchdown on the final play of the game, but they have some new players in key positions and a new coach. First-year coach Alan Hall, formerly the offensive coordinator at Savannah State University, has taken over for former Hilton Head Christian assistant Matt Smith.
Last week: Bible Baptist lost 39-0 to Bethesda Academy; Thomas Heyward was idle
Players to watch: The Rebels will count on running back Ryan Day and quarterback J.D. Tuten to lead an offense they hope will be more balanced this year. Versatile sophomore Keynnard Campbell is the most explosive player in the Braves' offense, and he'll line up just about everywhere. When Campbell isn't lining up behind center, Savannah High transfer Michael Blake (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) will play quarterback.
Key to the game: Even though the Braves were shut out last week, they have some dangerous weapons on offense, so the Rebels would prefer to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible. That will require an efficient offensive performance with few, if any, turnovers.
W.W. King (1-1) at Beaufort Academy (0-2), 7:30 p.m.
The skinny: Beaufort Academy is still looking for its first win of the season, as the Eagles host W.W. King in their home opener. The Eagles have had a tough time getting things going on offense, scoring only 22 points in their first two games. W.W. King won last year's meeting 57-6.
Last week: W.W. King won 14-6 at Patrick Henry; Beaufort Academy lost 42-8 at Trinity Collegiate
Players to watch: The Eagles will have Gibson Achurch back at quarterback after he left in the second quarter last week with a deep thigh bruise. They hope having a healthy Achurch along with the running back/receiver tandem of Jack Griffith and Billy Dailey will spark the offense. Foster West (281 rushing yards, four touchdowns) and Cheyenne Bodie (241 rushing yards, three touchdowns) lead W.W. King's powerful running game.
Key to the game: The Eagles are still looking for consistency at the line of scrimmage, and they'll need to find it to hang with W.W. King. If Beaufort Academy isn't sound up front, it could be in for another long night.