Football Is Back: Area Private Schools Hit The Gridiron Thursday

Photo by Matt Dakolios

By Justin Jarrett |

High school sports teams kicked off official preparations for the 2017 season Thursday – the first day private schools competing in the S.C. Independent Schools Association were allowed to practice.

It was a busy day at Beaufort Academy, Hilton Head Christian Academy, Hilton Head Prep, John Paul II, and Thomas Heyward, with fall practices in full swing.

Morning rain storms put a damper on some teams’ football practices, but four of the area’s five private-school programs spent time on the field evaluating their squads and laying the framework for preseason conditioning. Beaufort Academy is set to begin practice Monday.

Second-year coach Kevin Wald had 26 players out for the initial practice session at John Paul II, and he said his young Golden Warriors team was well ahead of last year at this time, running through drills more efficiently in the second year of his system.

“Every football player looks good in shorts and a T-shirt,” Wald said. “We’ll see how it translates when we put on the pads.”

At HHCA, coach Ron Peduzzi had only 16 players, though he expects that number to climb closer to 25 by the time school starts. Peduzzi was pleased with the energy and enthusiasm during Thursday’s morning’s practice.

“The cookie jar isn’t full, but it isn’t just crumbs, either,” Peduzzi said. “We just need a few more cookies, and we’ll be in good shape.”

Thomas Heyward was the only area school that participated in two-a-days Thursday, practicing early in the morning and in the evening with 32 players on hand. SCISA rules do not allow teams to practice twice on consecutive days.

Paperwork occupied most of the morning at Hilton Head Prep, but the Dolphins were able to get on the field for the last hour of their scheduled time. Second-year coach Dave Adams has to replace nine seniors from last year – more than one-third of his roster – but expects to have about 22 players on this year’s squad.

“We did our talk and got a few things done. It was a good first day,” Adams said. “You have to start somewhere.”

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