Hilton Head Island High School will have it’s hands full on Friday night when the Seahawks travel to Myrtle Beach (8-3) to take on those other Seahawks in the second round for the Class 3-A football playoffs.
But win or lose, Hilton Head Island has already put together a special season.
The come-from-behind 27-21 win over Aiken on Friday was impressive, and it pushed the Seahawks (10-1) past some milestones.
The victory gave Hilton Head Island its first 10-win season in a quarter century. The Seahawks went 11-4 in 1990.
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It ended a seven-game playoff losing streak and gave the team its first postseason win since a 14-10 win over Georgetown on Nov. 3, 2006.
And for those who saw the game in the first half, it might have been tough to believe the Seahawks pulled it off.
Manhandled in the first two quarters by Aiken’s bigger offensive line, it was easy to believe Hilton Head Island just wasn’t physically up to the challenge, trailing 21-7 at the half.
But that’s not how things worked out.
“They’re a special group of kids, they really are,” Hilton Head Island head coach B.J. Payne said. “They never waver.
“We thought it should have been 21-all. I told the kids at half, ‘we’ve been down bigger. With the blueprint laid out in front of you, trust the process.’ ”
They did. Some adjustments on defense stopped the bleeding, and like they have several times before this season, the Seahawks fought their way back and held on to win.
It’s no stretch to say senior quarterback Aidan Hegarty is the engine that makes this train move. Bigger, stronger and, by all accounts, more mature, he has become a leader, both with his play and his attitude.
“He does everything asked of him,” Payne said. “He took some big hits (Friday) and bounced up. That’s the maturation process with him. He’s a leader on the field. He wants the ball in his hands.
“And then he makes big plays. He keeps plays alive.”
That he does.
Hegarty is having the best season of any quarterback in Hilton Head Island history, shattering the records set by Michael Julian, now playing for Toledo. He has overtaken the school marks for passing completions (176), yards (2,676) and touchdowns (31). He’s also rushed for 728 yards and eight touchdowns to set the mark for total yards (3,404).
As a result, the players around him on offense have made marks of their own.
Wide receiver Bryce Singleton has set records for catches (66), receiving yards (991) and receiving touchdowns (11).
Receiver-turned-running back Tyler Hamilton has claimed the records for total touchdowns in a season (21) and most points scored (130). Those were owned or shared by former Hilton Head Island great Raymond Robinson, who went on to star at N.C. State.
And the defense has consistently done enough against bigger offensive lines.
The question is “how far do they go?”
Is getting here enough? The previous two seasons, after breaking through with wins over rival Bluffton, the Seahawks have seemed content with beating their rival. Their seasons sputtered after the Bridge Bowl.
Only this year have they pushed on. Though they missed the opportunity to win the region with a tough loss to Hanahan, the Seahawks still have the opportunity to make some noise.
Hilton Head Island is missing a half dozen players that started the Bluffton game. Injuries have hit Hilton Head Island hard.
But the Seahawks have pushed on. It’s not an excuse.
“Next man up,” Payne likes to say.
This special season can be even more special with every win.
So now it’s next game up.
“Going up there is not an easy place to go and win,” Payne said. “We’re beat up, like a walking M.A.S.H. unit.
“But these kids believe.”