Don’t be alarmed, but the high school football regular season is already 9 percent complete. We wait all year for that first kickoff, and then the season seems to go by in a flash — oh, sorry, hope that didn’t trigger any lightning-related PTSD from Friday night.
Despite the thunderstorms that skirted the area Friday night, we managed to get almost all of the Week 1 games in — Ridgeland-Hardeeville’s home game against Woodland was postponed to 6 p.m. Monday — giving us a first look at what the local teams can do when the Friday Night Lights are burning brightly.
It’s only one game, so you have to take everything with a healthy dose of salt, but here are Five Things I Think I Know after Week 1 of the high school football season.
1. Beaufort is hyped for Holloman.
This might not be the best Beaufort High team in recent memory — Mark Clifford had a bunch of mighty good ones over the years — but it’s been a while since folks have been as fired up about Friday nights on Lady’s Island as they are this year. If you’ve met first-year head coach DeVonte Holloman — or if you followed his career at South Carolina and his brief time in the NFL — you understand why. My friend Andrew Lawrence had a great piece on Holloman in The Athletic this week.
2. Bluffton has some weapons.
The Bobcats came up just short in a 31-30 loss at Screven County (Ga.) on Friday, but they showed signs that the offense will be just fine despite graduating All-Lowco quarterback Hunter Eldridge and LowcoSports Offensive Player of the Year Jermaine Patterson. Lee Kirkland was incredibly poised at QB despite an all-new offensive line struggling a bit against a stout defensive front, and Rakim White looked like a breakout star at receiver. As defenses adjust and pay more attention to White, look for Shamar Sandgren, Tre’von Brown, and Noah Rashid to do more damage. And the Bobcats just missed on a couple of deep balls or they might have put up 40+ points.
3. The Jasper County private schools have some studs.
John Paul II had to settle for a moral victory in a 16-14 loss to SCISA 3A Cardinal Newman on Friday — a game the Golden Warriors should have won, by all accounts — but Zach Doe did his thing. Doe racked up 229 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries and caught the only completed pass for JPII. And Thomas Heyward has a budding star in Trey Pusha, who followed up his 200-yard rushing game in a season-opening win in the SECIS Kickoff Classic with a rare trifecta Friday, scoring on a run, a punt return, and an interception return in a 33-21 win at Hilton Head Christian.
4. Some Week 1 wins are more valuable than others.
In the grand scheme of things, non-region games in Week 1 don’t count for much. They have no bearing on a team’s postseason prospects. But they can have a huge impact on a team’s psyche, and some teams need an early-season win more than others. Take Hilton Head Prep, which won only one game a year ago and was pummeled down the stretch. The Dolphins desperately needed Friday’s 45-0 rout of Northside Christian. Or how about May River, which has a winning record for the first time in the program’s brief history thanks to an impressive 34-6 win over Georgia private-school power Memorial Day, or Whale Branch, which is 1-0 for the first time since 2011 after a convincing 31-9 victory over crosstown rival Battery Creek. And last but not least, you better believe Hilton Head High’s 43-14 win over Savannah High meant a lot to coach B.J. Payne, as it came just hours after he buried his biggest fan, his mother, who never missed a game he coached.
5. Next week’s rivalry games are going to be LIT.
Not sure how this happened, but it seems Week 2 has become the de facto Rivalry Week here in the Lowcountry with three big grudge matches on the schedule. Beaufort High at Battery Creek could be more competitive than it’s been in a long time — the Eagles have won 12 straight dating to 2003 — provided the Dolphins sort out some issues that plagued them last week. May River at Bluffton looks like a great matchup, as the Sharks try to beat the Bobcats for the first time after losing the first four meetings. And John Paul II at Thomas Heyward might be the shortest high school game in recent history as two of the best ground games in SCISA go at it. Just five more days.
Photo by Andrea Fabian
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