Another week is in the books, bringing us past the quarter mark of the high school football regular season (though several area teams look like they’re poised to keep playing well beyond Week 11).
The sample size is still awfully small, and we’re several weeks away from raising the stakes when most teams start region play, but some trends are starting to develop. Here are Five Things I Think I Know after Week 3 of the high school football season:
1. Confidence is a heck of a drug. Momentum is often overrated at the highest levels of sports, because elite professional athletes are practically robots who can compartmentalize their emotions in the run of play, but it can have a huge impact at the lower levels. Teams like May River (two wins each of the past two seasons), Beaufort High (first season under a new coach), and Hilton Head High (missed the playoffs last season) needed some early success to build confidence, and all three are poised to be dangerous teams after 3-0 starts. (I’d say Beaufort Academy is equally dangerous after a 58-0 rout of Laurens Academy on Friday. How’s that for a confidence boost?) Like any drug, though, confidence can have side effects, which may include cockiness, looking ahead, and inattention to detail. Just ask Whale Branch and Ridgeland-Hardeeville, which came out flat Friday night after 2-0 starts and suffered their first losses of the season. It can change course in a hurry.
2. May River is on a mission. The Sharks are all about social media hashtags and slogans, and they all have a common theme this season. May River is #PlayingForMichael as it seeks to #LeaveNoDoubt on its #RevengeTour. So far, so good. The Sharks have dominated the trenches in their first three games, as a veteran offensive line has paved the way for quarterback Ahmad Green and running back Brandon Morales to put up big numbers, and a salty defense has slowed down some pretty potent offenses. They’ll face another one Friday, because …
3. The Seahawks can sling it. Hilton Head High graduated one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the area last season, but the Seahawks’ passing attack has been just as lethal — if not more so — through three games this season. Gaston Moore has completed 61 percent of his passes for 818 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception, and he’s spreading the ball around. Eight players have receptions, and six of them have caught TD passes. The Seahawks will see the best defense they’ve faced yet Friday against May River, and they have some injury concerns going into the game, but they certainly have the offensive weapons to do some damage.
4. The Rebels can run it. Thomas Heyward withstood its toughest test yet to improve to 4-0 with a 23-14 win at Colleton Prep on Friday, and the Rebels did it by continuing to grind it out on the ground. They had three 100-yard rushers — Trey Pusha, JR Patterson, and River Pender — and are averaging almost 400 rushing yards per game thus far. With a strong offensive line and that backfield, Heyward is going to be tough to stop.
5. You play to win the game. What transpired at the end of John Paul II’s game at St. Andrew’s on Friday was puzzling and disappointing. The teams were tied at 27 after regulation, and St. Andrew’s declined to play overtime, citing player safety concerns. I’m not buying it. Frankly, if we’re worried about player safety, we need to ban football. It’s a dangerous game. With that said, there are times when a total mismatch on the field creates a potentially unsafe situation — like when a young JPII team was routed 62-6 by St. Andrew’s in 2016 and 42-0 last year — but when a game is tied at the end of regulation, the teams are evenly matched. It sounds to me like Lions coach Doug Dixon opted for a moral victory rather than risk losing in overtime. I guess that’s his prerogative, but I think it sends the wrong message to his team.
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