We all know what rainy days and Mondays are prone to do, but don’t get down, even if your high school football is 0-2. We’re just getting started.
The 2022 high school football season continued Friday night, and with two weeks of games in the books, everyone in the Lowco has at least one game under their belts. The results haven’t necessarily been what you might have expected going into the season. Perennial powers Hilton Head Christian Academy, Beaufort High, and May River are a combined 0-5, while the trio of Hampton County squads we added to our coverage this season — Wade Hampton, Estill, and Patrick Henry — are each 2-0.
Are we in the upside-down? Nah, it’s just a teeny-tiny sample size and a case of teams who always test themselves early having to break in a bunch of new starters — including QBs1 — on the fly. In other words, you can take most of it with a grain of salt.
But here are …
FIVE THINGS I THINK I KNOW AFTER WEEK 1
- Battery Creek is turning a corner.
When Creek tabbed former Beaufort assistant Terrance Ashe, we *really* hoped he would be the guy who could cultivate deep enough roots to get the program back on solid footing, and when his first season was derailed by the pandemic and his second hamstrung by losing his top two quarterbacks, we feared he wouldn’t get enough time to turn things around. If the Dolphins keep playing the way they have the first two weeks, Ashe should get an extension. Hilton Head High coach B.J. Payne was adamant that this wasn’t the “same ol’ Creek” after his Seahawks beat the pesky Dolphins 34-15 to open the season, and I saw it with my own eyes Friday night in Ridgeland. With 2023 QB Hunter Smith back, the Dolphins have a thunder and lightning duo in the backfield with bruising 2023 Jeremiah Mceachin and speedster 2025 Damien Freeman, and 2025 DB/WR Derrick Smalls is a slippery X-factor in the short passing and return games. But the biggest differences are on defense and in the trenches, where this is the most physical Creek team I can recall since I arrived in the Lowco in 2015. The Dolphins aren’t likely to contend for a region title this year, but it isn’t out of the question, and Beaufort High could have company at the top of the standings in the near future.
- Ridgeland has some talent to showcase in its fancy new digs.
The turf is beautiful and the video board is stunning, but what about the football team? That part is still a work in progress for second-year coach and district AD Rodney Barr, who is still looking for his first win with the Jags, but it should come sooner than later. Offensive coordinator CJ Frazier — you might remember him from his starring role as QB of the Bluffton Bobcats team that made a run to the 2012 state championship game — has some serious talent to work with for the next couple of years in 2024 QB Maurice Brown, 2025 RB Wenson Smith, 2025 WR Dylan Pryor, and 2024 WR Jaquise Johnson, and 2025 LB Xavier Plowdeniz has the potential to become the kind of player you want to anchor your defense around. Much like Ashe at Creek, the typical timeline can’t apply to Barr’s situation — he inherited a program that had just skipped a full season and seen an exodus to Thomas Heyward and was thrust into a district-wide AD role in which he will oversee the dilution of his own program when Hardeeville High School resumes its athletics programs in the 2024-25 season, setting the process back a few steps. Barr’s mantra is “keep chopping,” and the Jags still have plenty of vines to hack away, but there is light on the other side.
- We picked the right time to start covering Hampton County.
When we added Colleton County to our coverage area in 2021, we knew Hampton County would be the next frontier. We just didn’t know when it would make sense to push our territory that far west. But as we found more and more often that “our” teams were squaring off with Wade Hampton, Estill, and Patrick Henry — and with all three Hampton teams matching up with existing Lowco schools in the latest realignment — I started thinking more and more about making the leap. Then the lightning wrecked Week 0 in Beaufort County, but I saw a parting of the storms to the west and hit the road to Hampton County. The reception and reaction were all I needed to see. We’re happy to shine a light on an all-too-forgotten corner of the Lowco (particular current events notwithstanding) and it sure doesn’t hurt that the county is a perfect 6-0 this season. That will change Friday night, because the Red Devils go up the road to Estill to try to humble the upstart Gators. Gotta love an intra-county grudge match. And one of the best stories of the first two weeks has been the Patrick Henry Patriots, who have outscored their first two opponents 39-0 to open their first season of 11-man football since 1999. Big test on the road this week at Lee Academy.
- Beaufort will be just fine.
I’d hope no one is overreacting to a 21-6 loss to the No. 2 team in Class 5A, which means Fort Dorchester is basically a toss-up to be the best high school football team in the state, but just in case … take a deep breath in, then let it out slowly … the Eagles are OK. The Eagles are OK. In fact, if you expected better than a low-scoring game in which Beaufort was within a score late, bless your heart. Now, if the Eagles had that Cane Bay game under their belt, maybe it’s a different story, but this was a tall task. Sophomore QB Samari Bonds was thrown into the fire in his first start and acquitted himself quite well, leading an impressive scoring drive with Kacy Fields doing damage. And the defense did what we expect Beaufort’s defense to do and limited an explosive Fort D offense with App State commit Colton Phares leading the charge. We will find out a lot more Friday night against Hilton Head High, which is a better comp for the level of competition Beaufort will see in Region 8-3A.
- May River and HHCA need the bye.
Sometimes the bye week hits when you don’t want it. Things are clicking, momentum is in your favor, and you just want to keep rolling. And sometimes, it can’t come soon enough — even in Week 2. There’s no need to panic about the state of the programs at May River and Hilton Head Christian Academy just because of 0-2 starts, but you can bet the coaching staffs are grateful for a Friday night off and some extra time to teach and develop. Even perennial powers graduate talent every year, and when a particular class includes a wealth of leadership, there’s going to be a dropoff to start the next season. May River has been blessed with back-to-back gamebreakers at quarterback who happened to fit the Sharks’ offensive scheme to a T. Now they have two talented, complementary quarterbacks, but neither is particularly suited to what the Sharks typically do on offense, and it has led to drives bogging down before the end zone. HHCA had to replace the heart, soul, and then some of its back-to-back state champion teams that won 25 straight games when Blackshear, Bulldog, and Speedy walked off that field for the last time, and it will take time for younger players to grow into those shoes. Rodney Summers and Ron Peduzzi have proven their worth as coaches, and now they have two weeks of film and two weeks to prepare for their next challenge. Don’t write them off.
That’s a wrap on Week 1. Time to start prepping for Week 2. Until kickoff, Go Lowco.
By Justin Jarrett / LowcoSports.com