After reaching heights last year not seen at Hilton Head Island in a quarter-century, the Seahawks can only hope for a less jarring November.
First, hopes of an unbeaten regular season came undone in a loss to Hanahan that ended on a disputed play over whether Aidan Hegarty’s knee touched the turf. Two weeks later, the Seahawks were dumped from the Class 3A playoffs by Myrtle Beach.
Talk about a hard fall to Earth.
“Everything happens for a reason,” coach B.J. Payne said. “We score that last play against Hanahan, now we’re the (No.) 1 seed and don’t face Myrtle Beach until possibly the state semifinals. And it might have been a different answer.”
What doesn’t change, Payne said, is the belief the Seahawks gained from their first 10-win season in 25 years. And though Hegarty and a few other key cogs have moved into the college ranks, there’s enough firepower still around to make a similar run in a rejiggered Class 4A.
“It really gave our kids confidence going into (this) year,” Payne said. “I think that’s something that builds every year. Once they get that confidence and know they can beat certain teams, I think it carries over.”
Hegarty will have to be replaced at quarterback, though Collin Kaiser has earned praise for his progress during spring and summer. It can’t hurt that he’ll be surrounded by such playmakers as running back Tyler Hamilton (719 yards, 15 TDs) and wideout Bryce Singleton (73 catches, 1,219 yards, 13 TDs).
Speed also keys the defense, where defensive backs Dajon Robinson and Jose Gayton will be tough for anyone to beat deep. But the Seahawks must replace all but one of their front six, where end Tyreke Young is the only returning starter.
Payne is no less concerned about someone to quarterback the defense, after Martin Duane excelled in the role for three years.
“We knew he was going to get everybody in position,” he said, “and he had the ability to run sideline-to-sideline.”
Payne believes that to have a successful football team, it takes five standouts surrounded by 25 quality high school players.
“It’s shown the last couple of years that we have those five guys,” the coach said. “The question is do we have those 25 really good high-school football players. That’s what we’re filling in the gaps with, guys that could be pivotal parts.”
Hilton Head Island Seahawks
REGION: Class 4A, Region 8
COACH: B.J. Payne (fifth season, 29-17)
2015 RECORD: 11-2 (4-1 Region 8-3A)
PLAYOFFS: Lost to Myrtle Beach in Class 3A second round
KEY RETURNERS: RB Tyler Hamilton, WR Bryce Singleton, OL Harvey King, OL Joey Kurkul, DE Tyreke Young, CB Dajon Robinson, SS Jose Gaytan
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Seahawks continue to build on last year’s breakout season, as QB Collin Kaiser keeps the fast-paced offense humming. Another unbeaten run into November is possible, with the chance for a winner-take-all finale vs. Beaufort for region supremacy.
- Aug. 19: Open
- Aug. 26: vs. Whale Branch, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 2: at Battery Creek, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 9: vs. May River, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 16: at Bluffton, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 23: vs. Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 30: at Berkeley, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 7: vs. Cane Bay, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 14: at Colleton County, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 21: vs. Stall, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 28: at Beaufort, 7:30 p.m.