After a spring and summer filled with uncertainty, the Hilton Head Prep Dolphins are headed back to the football field.
It was a long road to get there. After missing spring practice due to the fallout of COVID-19 and managing the aftermath of several players testing positive during the summer, it’s now all systems go for a new season this fall.
It will be a year featuring a number of Dolphin veterans who have lots to prove, especially after a second straight four-win season. Many of the skilled offensive players are back, including explosive running back Tommy Stauffer and athletic wide receiver Carson King, but there will be a new man behind center.
Harrison Green will be tasked to replace Lafayette College signee Stone McDonald, who was head coach Dave Adams’ first Division I quarterback in nearly four decades of coaching. Without the services of the athletic Tyrone Calloway, the senior receiving duo of King and Will Gray will be the targets that Green will be looking for as he aims to make a statement in his final year as a Dolphin.
It’s a crucial year for the defense as well. The defensive side is King’s element, and he can dominate both on the line and as a linebacker, creating difficult tasks for all parts of the opposition’s attack. Senior veteran Ezron Daley must perform well and show his leadership, and watch out for his brother Loncelle, who should have an excellent year at defensive end, looking to take down those running away from Carson on the outside. And he’s only a sophomore.
They’ll have to get prepared quickly, as the season opens with a tough matchup with Colleton Prep, and it won’t get any easier. The Dolphins will have to go up against a pair of SCISA 1A juggernauts in Thomas Heyward and Bethesda Academy, both state finalists a year ago. It’s a menacing schedule right until the end when they face off against their bitter rivals, the Hilton Head Christian Academy Eagles. Despite HHCA’s recent success, the Dolphins were able to take two of the last four meetings.
The talent is certainly there for the Dolphins to hang with the best in the region and get back to the postseason. And with nine incredibly impactful seniors on the roster, this year must be the time to get it done. If the squad can stay healthy, and the veterans of this team shift their gear to the highest level, the Dolphins can put together a memorable season in an unprecedented year.
— PRESENTING SPONSOR —
HILTON HEAD PREP DOLPHINS FOOTBALL
Coach: Dave Adams
Record at HHP: 14-26 (5th season)
2019 record: 4-7, 2-2 region; lost in first round of SCISA 2A playoffs
Top returners: RB/DB Tommy Stauffer, WR/LB Carson King, RB/LB Ezron Daley, WR/DB Will Gray, K/P Trevor Weldon
Notable losses: QB Stone McDonald, OL/DL Burak Henderson, OL/DL Bradbury Kiser
Breakout candidates: QB Harrison Green, ATH Phoenix Betancourt
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• Carson King, WR/LB: King is a do-it-all 6-foot-4, 240-pound beast who can dominate matchups on offense and take away entire sides of the field on defense. This year, he’s playing middle linebacker, looking to stuff opponents from coming up the middle and patrol the center of the field in pass coverage. He’s getting some big looks from the collegiate level and is the key for the Dolphin defense to shut down the opposition. Oh, and he can make some big plays with his athletic frame on offense, too.
• Tommy Stauffer, RB/DB: Another senior star of this Dolphin offense, Stauffer can explode past the defense and has phenomenal speed, which has helped him on the baseball diamond, as well. Expect Adams to draw up some trick plays to try to get him the ball, which led to some huge gains and scores a year ago. He’s a guy that coaches will be staying up late the week before their game trying to stop. Expect a large portion of carries coming his way again this year.
Can Harrison Green step up at QB?
Stone McDonald’s leadership and knowledge will be a key loss going into this year, and much will be dependent upon the play and in-game decisions of senior quarterback Harrison Green. Dave Adams wants Green to be first a game manager. Don’t expect the Dolphins to throw the ball much this season compared to the last few years, but when they do it will be up to Green to avoid mistakes and move the chains. If he can get it consistently to his backs and keep the turnovers low, the offense and team as a whole could be a major chore to stop.
REGION AND BEYOND
If they can indeed stay healthy, the Dolphins are certainly a dark horse contender. They will surely give HHCA a tough fight, and if they can survive a difficult test with Orangeburg Prep and an up-and-coming John Paul II squad, this group could make some unexpected noise and compete for one of the top spots in the region.
8/28 — at Colleton Prep
9/11 — vs. St.Andrew’s
9/18 — at Thomas Heyward
9/25 — vs. Bethesda Academy
10/2 — vs. Beaufort Academy *
10/9 — vs. Orangeburg Prep *
10/16 — at Northwood Academy *
10/23 — vs. John Paul II *
10/30 — at Hilton Head Christian *
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Written by Wes Kerr
Wes Kerr is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School and Davidson College. He has a passion for statistics and analytics.