High School Sports

HHCA defense adjusting on the fly

Most of the time, giving up 28 points isn't a source of pride for a high school football team.

Keeping Hilton Head Prep to that few points, however, is the exception to the rule.

Hilton Head Christian Academy's players were quick to credit defensive coordinator Vinnie Emery's tireless film study for their 49-28 victory against rival Prep on Friday, which gave the Eagles their second consecutive SCISAA Region 2-AA title and home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs, which begin Friday.

The Dolphins entered the game averaging 48.9 points and 464 total yards per game, and the offense was just as explosive as usual in the first half Friday. But Emery's defensive unit made one major adjustment in the second half -- having sophomore cornerback J.D. Reichel press star receiver Dimitri Lowry at the line of scrimmage and giving Reichel safety help over the top with Ryan Emery -- and it made all the difference.

Prep managed only seven points and 66 total yards after halftime and ended up with 284 total yards in all.

"I give all the credit to coach Emery," senior linebacker Ryan Smith said. "He's been watching them all year long, just writing things down and taking notes, and he poured it all into us and we were able to do what he coached us to do. ... Sometimes we almost have to slow him down to just get the basics and then we can go on from there."

BOBCATS STILL ON THE RISE

When Bluffton High School celebrated a Region 7-AAA title following its 37-0 win against Hilton Head High, it was unmarked territory for a school that had never accomplished a winning season.

The Bobcats (9-1) will continue their march into the unknown when they host Lakewood on Friday night in the first home playoff game in school history.

And while the team was plenty satisfied with its region championship, it will have to redirect its focus to the week ahead to earn its first postseason victory.

"That's going to be the tough part," said Eric Boyles, who rushed for 142 yards in Friday's win. "We have to get everyone focused on what's next. If we do that, we'll be fine. We can enjoy this region win, but when (today) starts, it's a whole new thing."

No player on Bluffton's roster has played in a postseason game for the Bobcats -- a fact of which coach Ken Cribb is well aware.

That inexperience would seemingly affect most teams. But Cribb said he has spent the majority of the season preparing his team to play in the playoffs. He has used team-building activities -- such as team movies, meetings and other activities -- to keep his team ready.

"We've been working real hard on that," Cribb said. "We talk a lot about what builds teams and what builds champions. I told them what was going to happen. I've told them all year we're going to get to this point. I think they're ready."

DOLPHINS READY FOR A REMATCH

Before he even knew his team's first-round opponent in the Class 2-A playoffs, Hilton Head Prep coach Ron Peduzzi was looking past the opening round and thinking about a semifinal rematch with rival Hilton Head Christian.

Just moments after the Eagles finished off a 49-28 victory over Peduzzi's Dolphins for their second consecutive SCISAA Region 2-AA title, Prep's coach guaranteed the teams would meet again in two weeks.

"We will win our first-round playoff game. I don't care who it is," Peduzzi said. "We will play them again in two weeks at their house."

That sounds like a solid prediction to Eagles coach Tommy Lewis.

"That won't surprise me one bit. In fact, I'm expecting it," Lewis said. "I'll be surprised if it doesn't happen, and they'll be ready. They'll be coming. And we'll do it all over again."

CAVE PREPARING FOR SHRINE BOWL

Battery Creek's season is over, but its coach has one last game to work.

Carlos Cave will coach the receivers for South Carolina during the 74th Shrine Bowl, which will be held Dec. 18 at Wofford's Gibbs Stadium.

The game pits the best players from South Carolina and North Carolina.

"It's a week of coaching college football," said Cave, who was in Spartanburg for a coaches meeting last week. "That's the best way to describe it."

Cave was selected by the South Carolina Coaches Association in March as one of six assistants under Blacksburg High School coach Mickey Moss. This is the second consecutive year Cave has coached in a postseason all-star game. He served as an offensive assistant for the 2009 North-South All-Star football game.

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