Hilton Head High football coach B.J. Payne isn’t too concerned about replacing six starters on offense and four on defense. He thinks the Seahawks have the personnel for that.
It’s any mid-season replacements that concern Payne, whose roster is thin, leaving little depth and a number of players seeing time on both sides of the ball.
“We’re really happy with what we have, and hopefully we don’t have injuries,” Payne said. “Everybody says that, but we mean it.”
The Seahawks return a pair of dynamic receivers in Sterling White and Diante Richard, who should help new starting quarterback Gaston Moore ease into the role.
“They won’t stop us,” Richard said. “They won’t even know what hit them.”
Payne was unsure who would take over the starting running back job, but lacrosse standout Will Frith has been impressive in the preseason.
The Seahawks lost only four starters on defense, but two of them left gaping holes – All-Lowco linebacker Landon Jenkins and LowcoSports Defensive Player of the Year Tyreke Young. Payne’s biggest concern on defense is the interior line, as Jai Roberson has shifted outside to fill Young’s former spot.
“It’s going to be a lot of recovery, but I think once the season gets going we’re going to come together and be a good D-line,” defensive end Nick Magnan said.
Hilton Head High missed the playoffs last year, when they had five games decided by six points or fewer, and only one went in their favor.
“We just need to finish games and not let it get into that situation,” safety Cole DeMarzo said. “Keep the pedal down.”
HHIHS SEAHAWKS FOOTBALL
Coach: B.J. Payne
Record at HHIHS: 37-26 (7th season)
2017 record: 4-5 overall, 1-4 region
Returning starters: 5 offense, 7 defense
Offensive scheme: Spread
Defensive scheme: Hybrid 4-2-5
Top returners: WR Sterling White, WR/DB Diante Richard, WR/CB Nate Brown, OL/DE Nick Magnin, WR Jeff Gordon, LB Elijah Thompson, CB Christian Miller, WR/SS Eli Hickey, FS/WR Cole Demarzo
Notable losses: QB Collin Kaiser, LB Landon Jenkins, DE Tyreke Young
Breakout candidates: LB/DB Makhi Aiken, RB/S Will Frith
PLAYER TO WATCH
Diante Richard, WR: Sterling White is going to draw lots of attention from opposing defenses, creating opportunities for the Seahawks’ other weapons to do damage. Richard is capable of doing just that — he caught 39 passes for 471 yards and seven TDs last year and added two rushing TDs.
Can the Seahawks avoid any major injuries? As long as the Seahawks are putting their best 11 on the field, they should be able to compete with anyone on the schedule, but they can’t afford to lose any of their stars or many of their role players.
REGION AND BEYOND
The four-team Region 7-4A is wide-open with each team looking to replace key pieces. The Seahawks are as talented and experienced as any of the competition, and if they can stay healthy until the final three weeks of the season they could contend for the region crown.
8/17 — vs. Savannah High
8/24 — vs. St. James
8/31 — at Battery Creek
9/7 — vs. May River
9/14 — at Ridgeland-Hardeeville
9/21 — vs. Christ Church
9/28 — at New Hampstead
10/5 — Open
10/12 — vs. Colleton County*
10/19 — at Beaufort High*
10/26 — at Bluffton*
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