After another come-from-behind win for Hilton Head Island in the Seahawks’ Class 3-A playoff opener last week, B.J. Payne’s team will take a long bus ride to compete in round two of the playoffs in a charged atmosphere at Myrtle Beach.
None of that worries Payne.
“This is a very mature group of kids who will not be awed and will actually relish the energy, whether it is for them or against them,” Payne said. “Our kids know they have turf, a big Jumbotron scoreboard, a big stadium. They do cool fireworks, the whole nine yards.
“With that said, I have never seen a firework run for a touchdown. I have never seen a Jumbotron complete a pass. I have never seen a stadium make a tackle. When all that ends at 7:30, it comes down to who is the better prepared and better football team.”
The Seahawks (10-1) have put together one of the best seasons in Hilton Head Island history and are looking to make it even better with a win at Myrtle Beach (8-3), also the Seahawks.
Payne sees a similar team that likes to spread the field. Defensively, Myrtle Beach likes to change coverages and runs a 4-3 defense.
Hilton Head is still missing several players due to injuries, including more than one regular offensive lineman. But Payne won’t use that as an excuse.
“(We have) guys who have waited their turns (and) are stepping up and taking advantage of their opportunities,” he said.
That offensive line has done enough to keep quarterback Aidan Hegarty upright.
“He has done a great job of not only executing the offense, but also making plays and wanting the ball in his hands at all critical points of a game,” Payne said of Hegarty. “He has done it all year, and we expect him to continue to play the way he has.”
The senior has been able to lead Hilton Head Island to six come-from-behind wins this season.
“This team has been down in six games this year and battled back,” Payne said. “Three of those six games, we were down double digits in the third quarter. These kids just don’t stop. They play for the full 48 minutes and however long it takes beyond that.
“They have a confidence. We will play anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
Obviously, this game is big. It’s a lose-or-go-home playoff game.
But Payne, who still counts the 2013 victory over Bluffton as his biggest win at Hilton Head Island, said each game replaces the last as the biggest.
“Everyone says they play week-to-week, but we live by it,” Payne said. “We do not look ahead. We work and prepare our best for the team we face that week because each week, that is the most important game of the year.”
Class 3-A playoffs, second round
Hilton Head Island (10-1) at Myrtle Beach (8-3), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Myrtle Beach won 64-16 in the first round of the 2011 Class 3-A playoffs.
Last week: Hilton Head Island beat Aiken 27-21; Myrtle Beach beat Dreher 41-26
The skinny: “We aren’t playing in Tuscaloosa,” Hilton Head Island head coach B.J. Payne said of Myrtle Beach. “We face hostile crowds pretty much everywhere we go. Heck home or away, the Bluffton game is always hostile. We played at O-W this year, which is a very difficult place to play.”