In some ways, it seems it was just yesterday that we were debating the issue of running up the score after Bluffton High School's 76-0 win over Hilton Head High on opening night. But here we are, already four weeks into the high school football season.
Area fans have had a lot to get excited about, with several teams shaping up to be region title contenders -- if not state title contenders. Nobody's perfect, though, especially this early in the season -- though Bluffton has been pretty darn close so far.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the good, bad and ugly (but mostly the good) from the first four weeks.
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Bluffton's offense. Good doesn't really do it justice. The Bobcats are even better than they were a year ago, when they set a school record with 473 points (in 14 games) and reached the Class 3-A Lower State final. The Bobcats have already scored 265 points in four games this year, topping 60 in each game -- and that's with their starters resting for most of the second half of each game.
Beaufort High's offense. If the Bobcats have been the gold standard, then the Eagles are, well, they've been pretty golden, too. They've put up 161 points in three games, and unlike Bluffton, one of their big outputs came against a strong, Class 4-A opponent, albeit a 49-45 loss to Fort Dorchester. Even more impressive, they did it without star running back D'Vonta Cohen, who missed the second half with a sprained ankle.
Whale Branch's offense. See a trend developing here? There are a lot of offensive playmakers around the county this season, which already has a certain sports editor dreading the task of picking an all-area offense. The Warriors have their share, and they've put up 119 points while starting 3-0, including a blowout of a decent Military Magnet team.
Thomas Heyward's region title hopes. The Rebels looked to be a contender going into the season, and now they probably have to be considered the favorite. They rolled up more than 600 yards of offense in routing Northwood Academy on Friday, and with Hilton Head Christian, Hilton Head Prep and St. Andrew's going through rebuilding years somewhat, the title is up for grabs.
Beaufort High's pass defense. Eagles fans were on the ledge after giving up nearly 300 passing yards to Fort Dorchester's Ethan Long in last year's 34-29 loss, so they're bound to be beside themselves after Long passed for 433 yards and five touchdowns Friday. The Eagles had a tough time matching up with Fort Dorchester's spread offense, and a tougher time wrapping up and making open-field tackles.
The state of our postgame interviews. I can't think of a single quote that jumped off the page at me so far this season, and there are two reasons I can think of for that. For one, we've covered a lot of lopsided games, which doesn't really lend itself to an interesting interview. Second, Hilton Head High coach Tim Singleton isn't talking to us, and he was usually good for at least one jaw-dropping, head-shaking or laugh-out-loud quote per week.
The strength of Bluffton's schedule. Don't get me wrong, the Bobcats are really, really good. But they haven't been tested, like, at all. And, frankly, they probably won't be until the playoffs. No other team in Region 7-AAA has a winning record, and Berkeley, the presumed top challenger to Bluffton in the preseason, has been outscored 82-0 while starting 0-3. It will be a big jump up from anyone on the Bobcats' regular-season schedule to the caliber of teams they'll see in the playoffs.
The state of SCISAA football. The bad economy has taken its toll on enrollment at many of the state's private schools, and it is reflected in roster size and quality of play. Some teams dropped from 11-man football to 8-man football this season, and many that didn't probably should have. Hilton Head Prep's opening opponent, Charleston Collegiate, had 13 players, and First Baptist forfeited to Hilton Head Christian on Friday because the Hurricanes had only 12 healthy players.