By now, Battery Creek coach Fred Hamilton has a fair sense of the talent he inherited when he arrived this summer. Now it’s a matter of getting them in the right spots.
Well, not just the right spots. The perfect spots. And that idea figures to keep the veteran coach mixing and matching well into the season’s first month.
“It’s very specific where I’m trying to place our athletes,” said Hamilton, back for a second term at the school more than a decade after a four-year stint that included the school’s first playoff victory.
“A lot of that is going to come through trial and error, to see if they can handle where we’re putting them. Then the next charge is to build depth.”
It’s a lot to do in a short amount of time, without the luxury of having gone through a spring practice. Hamilton was hired in June, launching a summer of hiring assistants, learning his players and generally getting organized.
“I think they understand where I’m coming from now,” Hamilton said, “and I think they know what my expectations are.”
The on-field teaching, though, really couldn’t begin until the start of fall camp. Nearly three weeks later, the Dolphins are perhaps a little more than halfway through learning the schemes.
“Are we going to get to 100 percent? I don’t know,” Hamilton said. “We’re just knocking away at it, trying to climb the mountain. We get a little bit higher every day.”
Hamilton can take comfort that the Dolphins are a veteran squad, with 21 seniors weaved throughout the roster. Another dozen are juniors.
The running game should be strong, with Hamilton able to choose between big backs Alterell Chatman and Eddie Dean and the smaller Diamonte Blackshear. All three also spent plenty of time at linebacker, where Sonja Jones spearheaded that unit.
Of course, that doesn’t mean players necessarily will line up in the same spots as last year.
“I’m trying to fit people into specific roles,” Hamilton said. “I looking for a certain kind of kid at one outside linebacker spot; I’m looking for one that has a little bit different skill set at the other. We’re looking for a specific skill set for our nose guard, as opposed to our two defensive tackles.”
The Dolphins get no breaks from the schedule, either, as Friday’s opener at Swansea is followed by nine consecutive weeks without an open date. But if Hamilton can hit on the right combinations, they might have a say when region play begins.
Battery Creek Dolphins
REGION: Class 3A, Region 8
COACH: Fred Hamilton (first year, 28-67 overall)
2015 RECORD: 4-7 (3-2 Region 8-3A).
PLAYOFFS: Lost to Timberland in Class 3A first round
KEY RETURNERS: RB Diamonte Blackshear, RB Alterell Chatman, RB/LB Eddie Dean, WR Tyrone Washington, OL/DL Dizayah Hinton, LB Sonja Jones
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Dolphins pick up Hamilton's schemes faster than anticipated, survive their three-week opening gauntlet and start to pluck off victories in the season's final two-thirds. With a few breaks, they could battle for the region's No.2 playoff spot.
- Aug. 19: at Swansea, 7:30 p.m.
- Aug. 26: vs. Beaufort, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 2: vs. Hilton Head, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 8: vs. Charleston Math & Science, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 16: at Whale Branch, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 23: at Calhoun County, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 30: vs. Wade Hampton, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 7: at Bluffton, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 14: vs. Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 21: at May River, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 28: Open