Ryan Mitch was looking for answers.
The new Hilton Head Christian Academy coach was off to an inauspicious start in his first year with the program, as the Eagles sputtered out of the gate en route to an 0-2 start. Hoping to instill some toughness in his team, he opted to change up the game plan on the offensive side of the football.
And thus, the Eagles' diamond offense was born. A formation that features a trio of tailbacks lining the backfield, it is a run-heavy system that has given Hilton Head Christian a completely new set of tools in addition to its customary spread packages.
"The whole point of it was to put an emphasis on being physical and being a downhill-running team first, and then build off that," Mitch said. " ... We're building that offense, but we have a whole (different) offense we can go back to when we need to. It's kind of a meshing of the two systems that's starting to work out pretty well and give us a lot of options."
The Eagles used their new formation to power their way past another SCISAA foe Friday night, as Hilton Head Christian manhandled visiting Thomas Sumter, 54-14. It was the third consecutive victory with the new scheme after that trying 0-2 start.
"I guess coach realized what kind of team he had," senior tailback Deo'Vonte Doe said. "I guess we're not much of a passing team. This is a run-first (group)."
Doe led the charge with 227 yards and five touchdowns on just 15 carries. He joined with quarterback Brad Meccariello, who added another 153 yards and three scores on the ground, to churn up the defense of the Generals (0-6).
In all, Hilton Head Christian (3-2) amassed a whopping 445 yards on the ground while averaging more than 14 yards per carry. The Eagles also finished with seven plays of more than 25 yards, including touchdown runs of 37, 50 and 36 from Meccariello and another 67-yard burst from Doe.
"Both offensively and defensively (the first two weeks) we just weren't physical," Mitch said. "The first thought was, 'Let's just pound people.'"
Hilton Head Christian has gone about the transition to its diamond offense slowly. The team ran only four plays with it in a 29-28 win over Dorchester Academy, Mitch said, before adding another four or five plays in a 48-41 triumph over Northwood. Another five were added prior to Friday's game.
"We'll continue to do that," he said. "We're keeping it simple, but we can still always go back to the spread. I think our first four or five touchdowns were all out of the spread tonight."
No one would blame Mitch if he couldn't quite recall, because the Eagles scored in bunches once again. The team has averaged 43.6 points per game in this three-game win streak and appears on its way to even higher totals as the season progresses.
"We're playing together more," Doe said. "We're working harder at practice, we're more conditioned and we're more disciplined."
Hilton Head Christian 54, Thomas Sumter 14
Thomas Sumter 7 0 7 0 -- 14
Hilton Head Christian 20 27 7 0 -- 54
HHCA--Brad Meccariello 37 rush (J.R. Moise kick), 10:46.
TS--Cody Segura 33 catch from Kevin Lewis (Jaidon Martin kick), 8:58.
HHCA--Meccariello 50 rush (Moise kick), 4:36.
HHCA--Deo'Vonte Doe 67 rush (kick failed), 1:58.
HHCA--Doe 27 rush (Moise kick), 10:29.
HHCA--Meccariello 36 rush (Moise kick), 7:45.
HHCA--Doe 17 rush (kick failed), 2:37.
HHCA--Doe 1 rush (Moise kick), 0:19
TS--Jordan Adams 49 rush (Martin kick), 8:13.
HHCA--Doe 43 rush (Moise kick), 4:33.
First Downs 7 18
Rushes-Yards 19-39 39-445
Comp-Att-Int 7-21-0 3-4-0
Passing Yards 95 31
Punts-Avg 3-28 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 1-10 4-55
Third-Down Conv 2-9 6-8
Fourth-Down Conv 1-3 0-2
PASSING: TS -- Kevin Lewis 7-20-0-95, Drew Stengel 0-1-0-0; HHCA -- Brad Meccariello 3-4-0-31.
RUSHING: TS -- Jordan Adams 6-65, Dre Litsey 1-3, Ty Cressione 2-2, Stephen Reaves 1-1, Drew Stengel 3-0, Paul James 2-0, Mason Crowson 1-0, Kevin Lewis 3-(-32); HHCA -- Deo'Vonte Doe 15-227, Brad Meccariello 8-153, DeAngelo Clark 4-21, Nick Pirozzi 2-14, Reese Dolyniuk 5-12, Alex Cooler 1-8, Chris Edwards 1-6, Luke Higgs 1-2, Ryan Barrett 2-2.
RECEIVING: TS -- Cody Segura 2-52, Drew Stengel 2-18, Devin Harwell 1-16, Dante Linder 1-6, Austin Hudson 1-3; HHCA -- DeAngelo Clark 1-16, Alex Cooler 1-12, Ryan Barrett 1-3.