B.J. Payne saw something different from his team the morning after Hilton Head Island High School opened its football season with a disappointing loss at the hands of Whale Branch Early College High School.
The Seahawks, Payne said, had their best lift and workout of the entire year. Not hard to imagine, seeing as how Hilton Head High had run its losing streak to three games, with the latest coming against a Class 1-A program from northern Beaufort County. A change had to be made to get the Seahawks back on track.
Their Saturday lift -- coupled with an equally strong week of practice -- helped lead the Seahawks to an easy 54-12 triumph over Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School. And now, Hilton Head High will look to begin a positive streak, as the Seahawks travel to Battery Creek High School for their first road trip of the season.
"We found out last week how our kids respond after a loss," Payne said. "Now we have to see how they respond after a win. I think that's a huge thing."
Payne said last Saturday's lift was "good," but probably not as strong as the one the week prior. Hilton Head High's first-year coach didn't seem concerned, however. He knows what he's getting out of this group of Seahawks.
"Our team has been very even-keeled," he said. "They come in every day to work and get better."
Payne was just happy to see some swagger out of his kids this week. That hasn't always been the case for a team that's been through its fair share of troubles in the last calendar year.
"They had the opportunity to walk around with their heads up a little bit," Payne said. "They didn't have to carry that cloud from the first one of the year."
The Seahawks face a Dolphins team looking for its first win. Battery Creek, which went 1-9 a season ago, has opened the 2012 campaign with a pair of losses to Class 1-A foes Estill and Whale Branch.
The Dolphins have spent the week preparing for Hilton Head High quarterback Michael Julian, who set a school record for passing yards in Week 2.
"He's a great talent," Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman said. "He can throw the ball well. He's a good runner."
During a Week 2 loss at Whale Branch, Battery Creek held the Warriors without a completion and shut down standout receiver Dee Delaney. But Shuman knows the Seahawks are equipped with more weapons. Battery Creek was able to cheat coverage to Delaney's side, but this week its secondary will have to remain balanced, Shuman said.
The Seahawks boast a couple of emerging receivers in James Sanders and Adam Orischak. The pair has helped Julian get off to a strong start this season, as they've combined for 14 receptions, 347 yards and eight touchdowns.
They help make up a strong core of Seahawk receivers that has proven so far to be the strength of the team.
"They're dynamic," Payne said. "... We talk with our defense and secondary about how it's going to be really tough (for opponents) to go up against four or five receivers like that on one team."
TONIGHT'S OTHER GAMES
Groves (0-1) at Beaufort High (1-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: N/A
The skinny: The Rebels compete in Georgia's Class 5-A, the highest classification in the state. Groves opened the season with a 48-0 loss to Class 2-A Screven County. The game continues a four-game home stretch for the Eagles, who defeated Aiken 48-13 in Week 2.
Players to watch: Beaufort High QB Ben Vaigneur helped the Eagles bounce back from a Week 1 shutout by completing 9 of 11 passes for 162 yards and two scores and emerged to add depth to the run game. Groves RB Tyre' Robinson rushed 14 times for 56 yards during the Rebels' season-opening loss.
Keys to the game: The Eagles will have to overcome the loss of RB Josh Roberts, who scored two touchdowns and was the team's leading rusher during the victory over Aiken. Beaufort High appears to have plenty of bodies behind Roberts but will have to match his production.
Savannah Country Day (0-0) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (0-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: First meeting
The skinny: Savannah Country Day is playing its opener, having only seen action in a scrimmage against Bryan County (Ga.). The Jaguars have had back-to-back rough Friday nights on the road against Class 4-A Bluffton (67-0) and Class 3-A Hilton Head Island (54-12) and are glad to be playing in Jasper County.
Players to watch: The Hornets are led by 6-foot-5 quarterback Heys McMath, a transfer from the state of Virginia, and wide receiver Ben Johnson. McMath, who is being recruited by Wake Forest and N.C. State, is an accurate pocket passer, while Johnson runs a 4.5 40-yard dash.
Keys to the game: For the first time this season, the Jaguars are facing a team they match up well against in size. "We feel like if we can play well and do the things we can do, we can taste that win," Ridgeland-Hardeeville coach Blake Raley said. "This might be the week that we get on a roll." But Raley and the Jaguars must improve their pass defense against McMath and the Hornets. Ridgeland-Hardeeville has give up nine passing touchdowns in the first two weeks.
Colleton Prep Academy (2-1) at Thomas Heyward (3-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Thomas Heyward 28, Colleton Prep 21 (2011)
The skinny: The defending SCISAA Class 1-A state champions, the War Hawks are in their first season under former Colleton County head coach Leroy Riley. They scored 13 fourth-quarter points to come from behind to beat Northwood Academy 20-14 at home last week. The Rebels are off to a strong start and have outscored opponents a combined 110-20.
Players to watch: For Colleton Prep, fullback Keith Fisk rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, while tailback Joseph Padgett is the fastest player on the team. Quarterback JD Tuten and running back Ryan Day are the engine that makes the Rebels go, combining for 783 yards and 10 touchdowns. John Padgett and Nick Kiefer are tied for the team lead with 22 tackles apiece.
Keys to the game: The War Hawks feature a power running offense and are bigger than the Rebels up front, ranging between 220 and 245 pounds. According to Thomas Heyward coach Nic Shuford, the Rebels must be aggressive on defense, countering Colleton Prep's size and aggressiveness with their own. "We need to force some three and outs and control the clock," Shuford said. "That's what they try to do, and we don't want to let them."
Faith Christian (0-3) at Beaufort Academy (1-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Beaufort Academy 50, Faith Christian 18 (2011)
The skinny: The Eagles will try and start 2-0 in region play for the first time under coach Wheatley Alford. The Knights have allowed an average of 60 points per game during their winless start.
Players to watch: Beaufort Academy center Jackson Warren is a gametime decision after suffering a dislocated jaw in Week 1. Whether Warren plays and how well he returns from injury could be key for the Eagles' flow on offense. Alford remembers Knights senior Logan Winningham as being a physical receiver and tough to stop.
Keys to the game: The Eagles must be prepared to stop quarterback John Elvington on the read option. Alford didn't receive the Knights game film until late in the week, but said a solid plan was already in place and that Faith Christian runs similar schemes as the previous season. "(Elvington) is a good, strong-running kid, does a good fake on his handoffs and reads very well," Alford said. "He's very mobile, very smart."
Bluffton (3-0) at Wade Hampton (0-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Bluffton 55, Wade Hampton 7 (2011)
The skinny: Bluffton faces its first road test of the season in a Red Devils team that enters having suffered a 44-7 loss to Allendale-Fairfax and a 26-18 defeat to Estill. The Bobcats knocked off Georgia Class 4-A program South Effingham, 35-8, last week. Bluffton has won each of its past three meetings with Wade Hampton.
Players to watch: Bluffton DE Shameik Blackshear has been a terror in recent weeks. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end has collected 21 stops, nine tackles for loss, three sacks and seven quarterback hurries through the first three games while also blocking a punt last week against the Mustangs. He'll look to stop a Wade Hampton offense that models its game after Bluffton.
Keys to the game: The Red Devils' pistol offense is designed with the Bobcats' scheme in mind, Cribb said, so Bluffton's defense shouldn't be too surprised by anything it sees tonight. Stopping Wade Hampton will likely be the difference, but another fast start from QB C.J. Frazier and WRs Marquis Webber and Demetrius Smalls certainly wouldn't hurt, either.
Hilton Head Christian (1-1) at Dorchester Academy (2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Hilton Head Christian 14, Dorchester Academy 0 (2007)
The skinny: The Eagles are hoping to win their second straight after a season-opening defeat at the hands of Hammond School. Hilton Head Christian is making its first road trip of the year after defeating Bible Baptist 36-22 last Thursday.
Players to watch: Raiders RB Jordan Weathers has scored eight touchdowns in Dorchester Academy's two wins this season, according to the Times and Democrat. Eagles WR/DB Jamario Williams highlighted the Hilton Head Christian offense last week with three catches for 139 yards and two long touchdowns.
Keys to the game: Eagles coach Tommy Lewis is hoping to see more consistency out of his offense, as Hilton Head Christian reached the end zone four times last week with each scoring drive taking two plays or less. A higher completion percentage by QB Caleb Lewis and more success on the ground by RB Tyler Chisholm could help improve that. A more consistent offense will help the Eagles keep Dorchester off the field, which features multiple looks and schemes in its arsenal.
Hilton Head Prep (1-1) at Bible Baptist (1-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Hilton Head Prep 31, Bible Baptist 6 (2011)
The skinny: Prep heads back on the road after losing to Laurence Manning at home last week. The Dolphins jumpstarted their 2012 campaign with a thrilling 15-14 road win over Colleton Prep. Bible Baptist, meanwhile, has lost to both Thomas Heyward and Hilton Head Christian through its first two games.
Players to watch: Dolpins QB Charlie Wilmot netted his first two touchdown passes of the season a week ago, one from 40 yards out and another 65-yard strike to Zenon Parker. The Braves have a similarly hot QB in Keynnard Campbell, who threw for 271 yards last week against Hilton Head Christian.
Keys to the game: The difference for the Dolphins will be how well their depth-starved defense holds up against the running and throwing of Campbell. The Braves' signal-caller not only threw for 271 yards and two scores last week against the Eagles but he also ran for 80 yards while adding a 44-yard touchdown rush.