This is what B.J. Payne knew he had all along. It just took a while to show up on Friday.
Quarterback Aidan Hegarty worked his way through some early rust to toss three touchdown passes and run for another as the Hilton Head Island High School Seahawks rolled to a comfortable 31-0 victory over visiting Ridgeland-Hardeeville.
After missing nearly all of 2013 with injuries, the junior missed on a few throws early, suffered more than a couple bad drops and tried to work out the cobwebs.
Once it clicked though, he turned in an opening-night performance to remember.
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"Last year was tough, but we came back strong," Hegarty said. "It was all the team. First game jitters, but once we got into it, rolling, nothing could stop us."
It was slow-going early on for the Seahawks, whose defense did a good job stopping the Jaguars' new triple-option attack even as the offense struggled to get a foothold. After going three-and-out on their opening drive, Hegarty punched across the goal line on fourth and goal from the 1 to put the Seahawks up 7-0.
Payne ordered an onside kick, and the Seahawks recovered. Just over a minute later, Hegarty split the secondary with a pinpoint pass to junior Trey Days for a 31-yard touchdown.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going as the Seahawks pinned their ears back defensively and packed the box. Playmakers Gavin Bush and Craven Howard struggled to find space, while quarterback Frank Fields missed on some third-down throws.
Hegarty was in a groove, connecting on long passes to DeAngelo Clark and Tyler Hamilton, the latter a 37-yard touchdown with 4:31 remaining in the second quarter.
In the fourth, he found senior standout Aaron Frazier on a quick pass, and Frazier did the rest, weaving his way for a spectacular 44-yard score. Savannah Reier's 38-yard field goal pushed the score to 31-0, where it would remain.
In his return, Hegarty finished with 276 yards on 21 completions without an interception.
Payne, while happy with part of an offensive effort that put together 415 yards, was frustrated with mistakes, including 12 penalties, two of which negated touchdowns. The defense, however, was impressive, limiting Ridgeland-Hardeeville to just a handful of big plays.
"Our D-line did a great job," Payne said. "We knew they weren't going to throw the ball much. Up front we were going to get challenged, and I thought we played really well."
The secondary did not allow a completion, keeping Fields to an 0-for-3 night in the air, while the rest of the defense held the Jaguars to 132 yards on the ground.
Only Howard could make a dent, with a pair of long runs in the second half. The Jaguars struggles with flags, drawing 14 penalties of their own, and had a Bush touchdown called back in the first quarter.
"It was a learning experience," Jaguars coach Jahmaal Nelson said. "A lot of mistakes. And the big part of that is the kids getting in their practice, being committed and being able to work together."
Hilton Head Island 31, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 0
RH 0 0 0 0 -- 0
HHI 14 7 0 10 -- 31
HHH -- Aidan Hegarty 1 run (Savannah Reier kick), 5:49
HHH -- Trey Days 31 pass from Aidan Hagerty (Reier kick), 4:45
HHH -- Tyler Hamilton 37 pass from Hagerty (Reier kick), 4:31
HHH -- Aaron Frazier 44 pass from Hagerty (Reier kick), 11:15
HHH -- Reier 38 field goal, 8:01
Rushes-Yards 29-144 35-132
Comp-Att-Int 21-32-0 0-3-0
Passing Yards 271 0
Punts-Avg 2-7.5 7-25.4
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-1
Penalties-Yards 12-100 14-110