Photo courtesy of Beaufort County School District
By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
Week 2 of the high school football season is in the books, and we’ve had time to digest an exciting, if predictable, night of gridiron action.
After going 6-2 in Week 1, I nailed all eight of this week’s predictions, and even correctly called the one-point margin of the Hilton Head Island-Whale Branch showdown in Seabrook. That says more about the quality of matchups than it does about my expertise, I’m afraid.
But I am a pretty quick study, and every Friday night provides another important lesson on Lowcountry teams. After Week 2, here are Five Things I Think I Know (And One I Definitely Know From Personal Experience):
1. BJ Payne has his team pegged. The Hilton Head Island HS coach warned me a couple of weeks ago that the offense was a work in progress and that he would rely on a stout defense and excellent kicking game to keep the Seahawks soaring early in the season. Boy, was he right. The defense did an admirable job of containing Whale Branch star Irvin Mulligan and returned an interception for a touchdown, and two kickers combined for three field goals to give the Seahawks a 22-21 win in their opener.
2. Whale Branch will be battle-tested for the playoffs. The Warriors certainly wanted more than a moral victory Friday night, especially after leading with less than five minutes to play, but there are benefits to being the only Class 2A school in the Beaufort County School District and taking on their big brothers during the non-region schedule. Games like last week’s against HHIHS and next week’s against May River will help make Whale Branch a serious contender not only in its region, but in the Class 2A playoffs.
3. May River is ahead of schedule. Like Whale Branch, the Sharks wanted to sink their teeth into more than a moral victory against Bluffton on Friday, but you better believe they came out of the game far more confident than they went in. The success they had on offense, with dynamic freshman quarterback Ahmad Green and senior running back Cam Adams leading the way, was impressive. After losing 77-0 to the Bobcats last season, the Sharks were at the Bluffton 30-yard line with a chance to tie it late this time around. Talk about a Year 2 bump.
4. Ron Peduzzi can still coach with the best of them. Peduzzi has bounced around Hilton Head Island for years, as the head coach at Hilton Head Prep and an assistant at HHIHS before landing at Hilton Head Christian Academy and returning to a head coach role this season. The Eagles didn’t bring back a whole lot from last year’s one-win team, but Peduzzi has coaxed some talent out of the hallways and onto the football field and is doing his customarily fantastic job of coaching kids up. The Eagles are inches away from being 2-0.
5. Ridgeland-Hardeeville has some playmakers. The Jaguars have put up big offensive numbers in their first two games, and most surprisingly, they’ve been balanced on offense. Quarterback Derald Nelson came into his own in Friday’s rout of Estill, and if the Jaguars can continue to throw the ball effectively, it will open up more running room for a talented backfield. Jabari Williams is on his way to a huge season, and RHHS has hardly even utilized Freddie Aiken III, who might be the most dynamic player of the bunch.
We learned a few other things in Week 2: That Bluffton, Battery Creek, Hilton Head Prep, and Thomas Heyward still have some growing pains ahead on defense … that Beaufort High’s ground game is going to punish people … that Beaufort Academy has some offensive weapons … that the area’s SCISA quarterbacks are pretty darn good.
And I confirmed my belief that being a single parent is the most difficult job of all. My wife left Friday on a nine-day trip to France for work, and I’m flying solo with a 7-year-old and 4-year-old who participate in way too many extracurricular activities. So if you see me looking a bit frazzled or have to wait a few extra hours for your local sports news fix, now you know why.
Until Friday (assuming I make it through the week),