It was only a scrimmage, but football season officially is here.
And as futile as it is to try to predict in mid-August what the season will hold come October and November, that's what sports columnists do, so here are my two cents from Friday night's Beaufort County football scrimmage. Because I know you'll hold this against me in a few weeks, you'll note I've qualified all these observations, because after all, it was only a scrimmage.
• It was only a scrimmage, but the rivalry between Hilton Head High and Bluffton hasn't simmered down much. Things got a little ugly toward the end of their scoreless quarter, when the Seahawks' Clifford Morrow and the Bobcats' Stephen Bradley were ejected for fighting on consecutive plays. You'll want to be at Hilton Head High on Oct. 30 for the fourth installment of the Bridge Bowl.
• It was only a scrimmage, but Beaufort High's backfield appears poised to pick up where it left off, even if the Eagles aren't exactly settled on a quarterback. Beau Brown got a few more snaps than Thomas Gruel, but Mark Clifford seems content to let those two split time behind center. It won't matter who is taking the snaps, though, if Alex Simmons and Josh McPherson continue to run the ball the way they did Friday.
• It was only a scrimmage, but Battery Creek's defense looked pretty solid. Coach Carlos Cave wasn't happy with his team's play on either side of the ball -- and you can understand his frustration with the offense, which didn't do much against Beaufort High and turned the ball over against Bluffton -- but the Dolphins' defense held two potentially potent offenses off the board.
• It was only a scrimmage, but Hilton Head Prep's offense looked better than anyone's Friday night. Junior quarterback Matt Layman showed poise and an ability to scramble out of trouble, and the Dolphins' have some serious weapons in DeAnte Scott, Dimitri Lowry, Matt Bex and Scott D'Amico, who had solid nights.
• It was only a scrimmage, but Hilton Head High's quarterback battle seems far from settled. Jeff Homad got the start and connected on a 95-yard touchdown pass to Clifford Morrow -- though it was called back by a penalty -- and Desmond Bush completed a 39-yard pass to Victor Frazier. But Jon Bever didn't get any reps, so the starter won't be decided until the coaches get a closer look at him in scrimmages this week.
• It was only a scrimmage, but it seems Bluffton is finally running the right offense for its personnel. Jeremy West tried a couple different looks during his first two seasons coaching the Bobcats, but he has gone back to his roots and installed the Wing-T, which suits his stable of talented backs well. Zack Frazier, Timmy Smith and Desmond Jenkins all had success running the ball Friday, which is what the Bobcats need to snap their eight-game losing streak and turn things around after a 2-8 campaign last year.
• It was only a scrimmage, but the injuries are already starting to pile up for Hilton Head Christian Academy. The Eagles have almost everyone back from last year's 8-4 team, but many of them were sidelined Friday, including starting quarterback Luke Sirgo (illness), receiver Zac Lenns (neck), offensive lineman John Taylor Stones (foot) and cornerback James Berl (ankle). The injury bug hit again Friday, as receiver/linebacker Ethan Gort left during the first quarter with a hip injury and didn't return.
• It was only a scrimmage, but it looks like Hardeeville's Jarrell Knighton is back. After a huge freshman season, "J-Bone" missed his entire sophomore season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but he was impressive Friday. He picked up 42 yards on four carries, and defenses can forget about tackling him on first contact. If the Hurricanes can develop a bit of a passing game to keep opponents honest, they could be a dangerous offense.
It was only a scrimmage, but it was nice to get back out under the Friday night lights. Football season is here, and that's always a good thing as far as I'm concerned.