By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
Nearly two decades ago, Ron Peduzzi took over Hilton Head Prep’s struggling football program and built it into a perennial state championship contender. Now he hopes to do the same for the Dolphins’ biggest rival.
Peduzzi enters his first season as Hilton Head Christian Academy’s head coach with a small – in numbers, and in size – but scrappy Eagles squad that expects to improve dramatically from last year’s one-win campaign.
The Eagles return plenty of experience on the offensive and defensive lines, but not much size, as only two players tip the scales past 200 pounds. What HHCA lacks in girth, Peduzzi feels it will make up in speed.
The Eagles have the tall task of replacing their top rusher in Zach Doe (transfer) and top receiver in James Bartholomew (graduation), but they have a talented bunch of position players ready to give it a shot. Sophomore Daniel Harrington is poised to take over the starting quarterback role full-time, allowing Dargan Cherry to move to tight end, and he is backed by a deep stable of running backs including fellow sophomore Floyd Hargrove.
HHCA boasts good team speed on the defensive side of the ball, and has six returning starters on defense, including linebackers Ben Viljac and Chandler Edmonds, who ranked in the top four on the team in tackles. That unit’s performance will be the key to snapping the seven-game skid to end last year and making a push for the playoffs.
HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN ACADEMY EAGLES FOOTBALL
Coach: Ron Peduzzi
Record at HHCA: 0-0 (1st season)
2016 record: 1-7 (0-4 region)
Returning starters: 4 offense, 6 defense
Offensive scheme: spread
Defensive scheme: 4-2-5
Top returners: TE/DE Dargan Cherry, OL/LB/P Chandler Edmonds, RB/OLB Floyd Hargrove, QB/FS Daniel Harrington, OL/DL Justin Heller, OL/MLB Maximillion Lowery, OL/DL Keegan Monahan, RB/OLB Ben Viljac
Breakout candidates: RB/LB John Burke, RB/DB Alex Nasiadka, WR/DB/K JP Peduzzi, WR/CB Wesley Warner, WR/DB Reese Woods
Outlook: Peduzzi always instills toughness in his teams, and the Eagles will get better as the season goes along. They might be too one-dimensional on offense to keep pace with SCISA’s best teams, so the defense will have to be stingy to keep them in games.
|8/18||at John Paul II||7:30 p.m.|
|8/25||vs. First Presbyterian||7 p.m.|
|9/8||at First Baptist*||7:30 p.m.|
|9/15||at Colleton Prep||7:30 p.m.|
|9/22||vs. Northwood*||7 p.m.|
|9/29||at Thomas Heyward||7:30 p.m.|
|10/6||vs. Laurence Manning||7 p.m.|
|10/13||at St. Andrews*||7:30 p.m.|
|10/20||vs. Bethesda Academy*||7 p.m.|
|10/27||vs. Hilton Head Prep*||7 p.m.|