The Battery Creek High School buses parked on the visitors side, beyond the far bleachers.
The Dolphins football team, on its first visit to Whale Branch Early College High School, wanted to prove it was still strong, that the school splitting two years ago had not affected its spirit.
The Class 1-A Warriors dismissed the little brother role. They hit hard and wrapped up, and at the end of the night they had protected their home turf with a 13-6 victory.
"We just wanted to win, that's all I can say," Whale Branch defensive end Tyrik Spicer said. "We know how much it meant to the team."
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A rivalry was born. The Warriors accepted a large trophy after the game, with the teams facing at each other's 40-yard line.
Whale Branch improved to 2-1, having knocked off Class 3-A Hilton Head Island High School the previous week and the Class 2-A Dolphins. The Warriors enter a bye week on a roll, with a chance to rehab injuries.
The Dolphins controlled the second half Friday and moved the ball on the ground the final two quarters. But their chance to take down the new blood ended with a broken up pass on the Warriors' 1 in the final minute.
Dolphins coaches told players on the field after the game that they had dominated the second half, to keep their heads up. Battery Creek (0-2) hosts Hilton Head High next week.
"Obviously, it hurts bad to lose this one," Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman said. "Our guys realize this was a history-making game. I'm proud of them. They didn't quit."
Whale Branch worked all week to stop the run, spending little time on offense, running back Michael Dantzler said. When Warriors linebacker Trey Nelson was hobbled early with an ankle injury, Whale Branch coach Jerry Hatcher was forced to adjust.
Battery Creek worked to harass Warriors receiver Dee Delaney and held the senior standout without a catch and Whale Branch without a completion.
Battery Creek and Whale Branch both run from split-back formations. Both want to control the tempo and play solid defense. It was the Warriors who punched first.
Dantzler took a pitch, ran over left tackle and found nobody in the secondary, a 67-yard touchdown. The junior followed with a 1-yard score after a muffed Battery Creek punt.
"We showed a lot of courage and a lot of people stepped up tonight," Dantzler said.
The Warriors controlled the game at halftime despite not having completed a pass. A touchdown pass to Delaney was waved off due to offensive pass interference.
Defense helped key the Warriors' push. Whale Branch contained the Dolphins' rush and chased down their passers. Spicer tossed down both starter Raekwon Smalls and Zach Mahan, who came on during the second quarter. Freshman Stephon Eugene blew up a kickoff return and later forced a fumble.
Battery Creek adjusted, and late in the fourth quarter had a chance to score, with the help of a successful fake punt. Clock issues kept the Dolphins from knowing exactly how much time remained and their hurry-up offense fell just short.
"We're playing teams that are supposed to be better than us and taking them out," Dantzler said. "I'm very impressed."
Whale Branch 13, Battery Creek 6
WB-- Michael Dantzler 67 run (Jay Delaney kick) 7:08
WB-- Dantzler 1 run (kick failed) 3:54
BC-- Yuneek Crittendon 80 run (kick failed) 7:20
Battery Creek Whale Branch
First downs 9 5
Passing yards 35 0
Comp-Att-Int 2-12 0-8
Rushing 38-140 27-131
Penalties-yards 8-60 6-55
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-2
Punts-avg 5-24.8 5-31.6
Rushing: Battery Creek -- Yuneek Crittendon 11-120, Darrin Peeks 7-28, Caleb Harris 4-10, Deandre Johnson 3-8, DJ Franklin 1-2, Jason Green 2-0, Zach Mahan 1- (-6), Raekwon Smalls 9- (-22). Whale Branch-- Michael Dantzler 11-95, Mark Rivers 11-41, Tyion Brunson 1-3, Trey Nelson 1-3, Devonte Glover 2- (-4), Brandon Morton 1- (-7).
Passing: Battery Creek-- Raekwon Smalls 1-11-18, Zach Mahan 1-1-17. Whale Branch-- Brandon Morton 0-8.
Receiving: Battery Creek-- Steven White 1-18, Robert Bowles 1-17.