High School Sports

Clifford, Eagles seeking respected passing attack

Colleton County knew what to expect of Beaufort High School on Friday. At least the Cougars thought they did.

The Eagles like to run right at opposing defenses, with few exceptions. And so Colleton County prepped for the run to start Friday's game, playing man-to-man coverage and everybody up near the line of scrimmage.

And Beaufort High threw. Two quick passes from Beau Brown to Dymonte Gwathney netted 56 yards and an Eagles' touchdown -- a three-play scoring drive.

"They get in man (defense), put everyone on the line, you throw the football," coach Mark Clifford said. "We've always wanted to do that, people have always told me to do that. And I think, right now, through execution in practice and everything, we're finally getting to where we can probably do that."

Clifford and the Eagles have worked to develop a capable passing game so that, when faced with a team more capable in man coverage, Beaufort High can still do damage through the air. The idea is that teams will respect the pass enough so that Clifford can do what he really wants -- run the football.

The Eagles averaged 71 passing yards per game before Friday's game. Brown had thrown three touchdowns through eight games. Against the Cougars, Beaufort High threw only 11 times but for a season-high 182 yards. And Brown connected on touchdown passes to Gwathney and Luke Smith.

"We're going to play some people who are going to probably be able to lock up on us a little bit," Clifford said. "So we got to just keep working on throwing the football and our routes and timing. We got to be able to do that. We got to make them think that they got to get more people in that secondary, so we can do what we do best."

BOBCATS KEEP TITLE HOPES ALIVE

Bluffton High School didn't capture its opportunity to win the Region 7-AAA championship on the field Friday night, falling 26-25 to Berkeley in a classic game.

But the Bobcats' region title hopes aren't done quite yet.

Berkeley hosts Cane Bay on Friday. If the Cobras can pull off an upset and Bluffton defeats Hilton Head High on the same night, there would be a three-way tie for first place, and the Bobcats would be awarded the tiebreaker.

Having played both teams in a three-week span, Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said the Cobras' physical nature could be a difficult matchup for an athletic Berkeley squad.

"They're not an easy game for anyone," Cribb said of Cane Bay. "They're big and strong. They won't go down easy."

The Bobcats didn't go down easy against the Stags, either.

Trailing 19-7 in the second half, they fought back for back-to-back scores in the fourth quarter to draw even. After throwing an interception on the next offensive drive, C.J. Frazier bounced back and marched the Bobcats downfield in a two-minute drill to again tie the game on a C.J. Johnson 5-yard touchdown.

Although he was disappointed with the loss, Cribb said he learned a lot of positive things about his team over the final two quarters Friday night.

"That showed me what kind of team we are," Cribb said. "That showed me what kind of character these kids had. That was tough. That means a lot to me to see that."

HHCA COACH WORRIED ABOUT SECONDARY

Thomas Heyward exposed a few flaws in Hilton Head Christian's defense in the first half of Friday's game.

The Rebels took advantage of some individual matchups created by their trips right formation, racking up 100 passing yards in the first half.

After a big early pass play to Logan Mock, Hilton Head Christian put a cornerback and safety on him each time he split out, opening holes for the rest of the offense.

The Rebels' early success was disturbing to Hilton Head Christian coach Tommy Lewis, considering his next opponent is pass-happy Hilton Head Prep.

"You look at Thomas Heyward," Lewis said. "Passing is not their forte, yet they were able to execute their passing game against us pretty effectively. Well, we're going to be playing a passing team (this) week. We have a lot to work on in our pass defense."

Thomas Heyward's defense also contained HHCA's offense for most of the first half. At halftime, the Eagles had just 34 rushing yards on 12 carries and the Rebels intercepted a Luke Sirgo pass.

"You look at the blueprint of what Thomas Heyward did successfully against us, especially in that first half," Lewis said. "It's match up man-to-man and bring pressure. I expect Prep is going to try to copy that. We've just got to do a better job of executing our gameplan against that kind of defense. There won't be any guesswork going in. It's just going to come down to who executes their gameplan better. That will be the team that wins."

HHH, BC PLAYERS DISCIPLINED

Hilton Head High's Taylor Place and Battery Creek's Bear Childers were ejected during the second quarter of the Seahawks' 21-8 victory Friday, meaning both will be suspended for this week's games, according to S.C. High School League rules.

Place, a defensive end, is the Seahawks' No. 3 tackler. Childers is the Dolphins' starting right tackle.

Schools are not automatically fined for player ejections -- they are assessed a minimum $100 fine for coach ejections -- but the S.C. High School League's constitution reads, "Repeated unsportsmanlike behaviors by teams involving multiple student athletes during the same sport season may subject the school's program/team to more severe penalties, to include possible probation and/or suspension."

SHUFORD PREDICTS COMPETITIVE CROSS-ISLAND CLASH

Nic Shuford played Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian in back-to-back weeks. So who does the Thomas Heyward coach feel will win the highly anticipated game between the two schools on Friday?

"I don't know if I would give either team an advantage," Shuford said. "It's going to be a heck of a football game. Prep definitely has a potent offense, but Christian is a pretty good all-around ballclub. They play good, solid defense and they're very balanced on offense. It will be interesting to see that score."

Hilton Head Prep defeated Thomas Heyward 67-28 in Week 8. Hilton Head Christian beat the Rebels 41-14 on Friday.

The Eagles and Dolphins have four other common opponents -- both defeated First Baptist and Northwood Academy, while St. Andrew's and Thomas Sumter beat Hilton Head Prep and lost to Hilton Head Christian.

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