High School Football

Week 5: Hilton Head Island hoping to end futility vs. rival Bluffton

Adam Orischak and the rest of the Hilton Head Island High School football team are subjected to the embarrassment every day. Coach B.J. Payne makes sure of it.

The Seahawks head to and adjourn from practice in the afternoons with the blistering sight of "76-0" emblazoned on Hilton Head High's practice field scoreboard.

It's a message Payne and Co. won't soon let the Seahawks forget.

"The reminder is up there," Payne said. "That's something they have to change. We're at the point where we want to get our program up to the level of Bluffton."

For anyone who doesn't know -- or has successfully eliminated the outcome from their memories, in the case of Seahawks fans -- 76-0 was the the excruciating score from last season's laugher of a Bridge Bowl between the Seahawks and rival Bluffton.

"It only gives us motivation," Orischak said before the season began. "Losing that bad, it just gives you that fire inside to want to come back and improve. The whole group of us was here last year and we all experienced that same loss.

"We've all had the same fire lit in us."

Coupled with a 58-6 doozy of a rematch later in the season, and the Bobcats outscored their former Region 7-AAA rivals 134-6 in 2011. Not exactly a rivalry, huh?

"The fact that they were in our region and we hadn't beaten them was a motivating factor (for us)," Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said. "But at this point, neither one of those is true."

Payne and the Seahawks came together before the season and developed a motto which would help guide Hilton Head High through its maiden voyage with Payne at the helm, in part to help right the ship caused by the blowout losses to Bluffton.

"Change it."

"If you don't like going 4-7, change it," Payne recalled of his message. "If you don't like getting beat 76-0, change it. If you don't like how our football program has been perceived in the public eye, change it."

Changing the 76-0 part may be easier said than done. The Bobcats have won the past four meetings by a combined margin of 210-6, with Hilton Head High's lone touchdown coming from James Sanders in the most recent matchup.

"All we have to do is kick one field goal and we raise our scoring average against them," Payne said, laughing. "Heck, if we get a touchdown we double it."

That task doesn't get any easier against a fast and physical Bluffton defense that has allowed just one offensive touchdown while posting three shutouts through its first five games. But Cribb, however, is still expecting the best from a Seahawks offense that is averaging 45.75 points per game under offensive coordinator Steve Fuller.

"I think that's the reason for the biggest improvement, is coach Fuller having full reign, they're sticking with one system and those kids are a year older," Cribb said. "They're one of the better offenses we've seen so far."

Premier quarterback play highlights this latest meeting. Bluffton quarterback C.J. Frazier and Seahawks signal-caller Michael Julian continue to put up eye-popping numbers in their final seasons, as the duo has combined to throw for more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns so far this year.

Julian and the rest of the Seahawks were not made available to the media this week by Payne after some trash talking made its way to Facebook and Twitter following Hilton Head High's win over Wade Hampton last week.

"In rivalries like this, there's just a lot of nonsense," he said. " ... Fueling things that don't need to be fueled."

The Seahwawks are instead hoping that their play on the field tonight does the talking for them. Excellent work from the offensive line and the ability to keep Bluffton's high-octane offense from connecting on the big play will go a long way in making that possible, Payne said.

Otherwise, what will Hilton Head High have to talk about?

"Until you get that respectibility back, it almost doesn't become a rivalry," he said. "We have to get it back to that stature."


Battery Creek (1-3) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (2-2), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

The skinny: Both teams are coming off victories in Region 6-AA openers. The Dolphins lost to Ridgeland 26-20 in 2009, the last time they played either of the schools now composing Ridgeland-Hardeeville. Battery Creek is trying to win consecutive games for the first time since 2003 and win two games in a season for the first time since 2009.

Players to watch: Ridgeland-Hardeeville running back Deo'vonte Doe ran for 221 yards and a touchdown in the win over Burke. Battery Creek defensive end Willie Doe returned a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown during the Dolphins' victory last week.

Keys to the game: Jaguars coach Blake Raley said his team needed to tackle better and be more prepared mentally against Battery Creek. The Dolphins will try and stop the run after Ridgeland-Hardeeville rushed for five touchdowns in Week 4.

Carolina Forest (1-4) at Beaufort High (2-2), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

The skinny: This is the last of a four-game home stretch for Beaufort High, which travels to Goose Creek and Bluffton the next two weeks. Carolina Forest finished 7-4 in 2011, including a 48-0 victory at Battery Creek. The Panthers' four losses this season have come to opponents with a combined record of 14-3.

Players to watch: Beaufort High kicker Brady Cormier will trot out at at almost any distance, up to 50-plus yards. Panthers sophomore QB Will Brunson has thrown for almost 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns through five games. RB Harold Atkinson averages 5.7 yards per carry.

Keys to the game: The Eagles defense will have to stop the pass. Brunson boasts a 3-to-1 TD/INT ratio through five games. Carolina Forest, which has allowed teams a bunch of yards on the ground, will have to find a way to stop the Eagles' split backs.

Thomas Sumter (2-2) at Thomas Heyward (5-0), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Thomas Sumter 28, Thomas Heyward 7 (2011)

The skinny: This is the team that knocked the Rebels from the playoff last year. Thomas Heyward coach Nic Shuford hasn't emphasized that, but the seniors know it. The Generals' two losses came to Class 3-A teams, so they're no pushovers. But the Rebels beat Orangeburg Prep, a team Thomas Sumter lost to.

Players to watch: The Generals run it more than they throw it, but when they throw it, senior quarterback Shane Bishop is effective, completing 40 of 57 for 632 yards and seven touchdowns, with just one interception. Fullback Ryan Mitchum and tailback Drew Stengel share most of the carries on the ground, though Bishop is quite a runner, as well. For the Rebels, it's quarterback JD Tuten and running back Ryan Day. The duo has combined to rush for more than 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Keys to the game: Last year, the Rebels were physically overmatched against the Generals, inspiring a grueling offseason for the returning seniors. As a result, the Rebels are a stronger, more confident, more determined team. To win tonight, they have to play smart and not turn the ball over. "(Thomas Sumter) does a good job of controlling the clock," Shuford said. "We have to make every possession count."

Bethesda Day School (2-2) at Hilton Head Christian (3-1), 7 p.m.

Last meeting: N/A

The skinny: The Eagles step out of region play again as they take on Bethesa Day School out of Savannah. Hilton Head Christian has won three straight games since a season-opening defeat, including a win to kick off region play last time out against Northwood Academy.

Players to watch: Hilton Head Christian QB Caleb Lewis is finally beginning to hit his stride. The signal-caller threw four touchdown strikes last week after firing for two more the previous week, while RB Brad Meccariello has accounted for three scores during that span. Bethesda Day features a balanced attack, as QB David Grayson has thrown for more than 600 yards and six scores while RB Shidel Williams has carried the ball 40 times for 486 yards and four scores.

Keys to the game: The Eagles are beginning to click offensively after a sluggish start to the season, and Hilton Head Christian will need to continue that theme to come out on top over Bethesda Day. A rematch against last season's state title game foe, Thomas Sumter, awaits next week. The Eagles will need to keep from looking ahead and stay focus on Bethesda Day.

Northwood Academy (0-4) at Hilton Head Prep (2-2), 5 p.m.

Last meeting: Hilton Head Prep 27, Northwood Academy 7 (2011)

The skinny: The Dolphins are looking to even up their region record at .500 early on against a Northwood team still searching for its first win. Hilton Head Prep is going for its third consecutive win in the series with the Chargers.

Players to watch: The Dolphins -- behind QB Charlie Wilmot -- threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns a week ago, by far their most in a single game this season. WR Logan Clark, meanwhile, hauled in a pair of those touchdowns. The duo will be counted on to out-muscle a Northwood team that scored 37 points a week ago on Hilton Head Christian Academy. The Chargers like to spread it out in their balanced offensive attack, coach Kevin Wald said.

Keys to the game: The Dolphins are hoping to eliminate the "meltdowns," as Wald put it. Hilton Head Prep went through a dry spell in the second quarter last week against Palmetto Christian where the Dolphins surrendered 34 unanswered points before coming up short after a furious rally. Eliminating those errors should propel Prep to its third victory of the season.

Charleston Collegiate (1-3) at Beaufort Academy (1-3), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Charleston Collegiate 65, Beaufort Academy 0 (2008)

The skinny: The Eagles lost senior quarterback Gibson Achurch last week to a high-ankle sprain. Achurch is expected to miss two or three weeks. Beaufort Academy was tied at 14 with Cathedral Academy in the second quarter before losing 58-14.

Player to watch: Beaufort Academy sophomore Clay Melville will fill in for Achurch at quarterback. The 5-foot-8, 135-pound Melville isn't as big as Achurch, but coach Wheatley Alford said the game plan will be tailored to fit. Achurch's injury means lineman Bryan Strawn is the lone remaining senior.

Keys to the game: The banged up Eagles will have to work with the players they have left. Their task will be to stop Charleston Collegiate quarterback Matthew McClain, who missed the early part of the season. Alford compared McClain to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Whale Branch (2-2) at Estill (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Estill 32, Whale Branch 27 (2011)

The skinny: The Warriors dropped their region-opener, a 27-6 loss at Denmark-Olar last week. This is Estill's Region 5-A opener. The Gators lost 42-8 last week to Bamberg-Ehrhardt.

Player to watch: Whale Branch senior Terrell Hazel caught his first touchdown pass of the season at Denmark-Olar and might be poised for more. Estill running backs Shervas Brown and Jarvas Singleton have rushed for four touchdowns each and combined for 545 yards on the ground

Keys to the game: Whale Branch needs to protect the football. The Warriors have lost at least two fumbles in each of its four games. They lost a season-high three against Battery Creek and have lost nine on the season.