The offensive concepts haven’t changed. The defensive concepts haven’t changed. Players block and tackle with essentially the same techniques.
After nine years away from the sideline, Dave Adams will be back in his comfort zone when he takes his position in front of the Hilton Head Prep bench. The only difference will be the number of bodies around him.
If there’s one adjustment the venerable coach has had to make, it’s the balancing act for his two-way players — of which there are several.
“The big thing is scheduling the practice time,” Adams said. “Having them flip sides, it means we really only get 50 percent of the (teaching) time because you have to coach both.”
That was hardly an issue at Bluffton High, where Adams served as both coach and athletics director for the school’s first four years. The growing populace never left him with a shortage of bodies, enough that few players went both ways.
Prep’s roster stands at 23 players, with plenty of experience from two straight trips to the SCISA playoffs under Kevin Wald. The challenge has been to digest new systems and terminology.
“Everything about it is different,” Adams said. “It’s different lingo, cadences are different, getting into the huddle is different. Even the guys on the line — our blocking technique and schemes are different.”
The Dolphins will run the double wing that Adams used during his later years at Bluffton, a three-back system heavy on timing and misdirection to get defenses out of position. When executed well, it has plenty of big-play potential.
Mac Orie and Rodney Sturgis, primarily receivers last year, will key the new attack as twin halfbacks.
“They’re the two fastest guys on the team,” Adams said. “That gives a threat to the right and to the left. One good thing about both of them is they’re both capable of breaking a long one. Mac broke one 60 yards the other night.”
Reese Irwin is set at fullback, but just who will get them the ball remains unclear. Freshmen Stone McDonald and Gaston Moore remain in a battle for the job, and it may not be settled by the season opener.
“Both are progressing nicely,” Adams said. “Some days one is better than the other, and in some situations one operates better than the other.”
Many of the same names will key the defense, which has been more in a state of flux as Adams continues to look for the best combinations.
“Even up until the last scrimmage,” Adams said, “we’ve moved a bunch of people around trying to find the right home for them. Linebackers moved to end, ends moved to tackle. Defensive backs moved to linebacker. That one is still evolving.”
If there’s one area Adams is most confident, it’s the kicking game. Punter Dorsey Barker has the ability to flip the field, and both Orie and Sturgis are dangerous return men.
“Good things can happen for us,” Adams said, “whether we’re punting it or returning it.”
Hilton Head Prep Dolphins
REGION: SCISA Class 2A, Region 1
COACH: Dave Adams (first year, 13-29 overall)
2015 RECORD: 8-4 (4-1 SCISA 2-1A).
PLAYOFFS: Lost to Lee Academy in SCISA 1A second round.
KEY RETURNERS: RB/S Mac Orie, RB/CB Rodney Sturgis, FB/LB Reese Irwin, OL/DL Cole Frederick, P Dorsey Barker, K Waddy Brooks
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Dolphins don’t need long to pick up the nuances of Adams’ double wing, with a well-timed open date setting them up to build momentum into region play. Though cracking the region’s top two could be tough, a break or two could lead to playoffs.
- Aug. 19: at Orangeburg Prep, 7:30 p.m.
- Aug. 26: at Thomas Heyward, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 2: Open
- Sept. 9: vs. John Paul II, 5 p.m.
- Sept. 16: vs. Palmetto Christian, 5 p.m.
- Sept. 23: at First Baptist, 7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 30: vs. Bethesda Academy, 5 p.m.
- Oct. 7: at St. Andrew’s , 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 14: at Colleton Prep, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 21: vs. Northwood Academy, 4 p.m.
- Oct. 28: vs. Hilton Head Christian, 4 p.m.