BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – Welcome to 15 Teams in 15 Days! This is WSAV’s annual high school football preview series where we do a deep dive on a new team for each of the first 15 days of August. This year, we will ask and answer four standard questions of each team, which are all listed below:
Why are you interesting?
Every team loses seniors and has to rebuild to some extent the next season.
However, very few teams lost as many key players as two-time defending state champion Hilton Head Christian.
Quarterback Jace Blackshear, running back Joseph “Speedy” Robinson, linebacker Jackson “Bulldog” Lanier and wide receiver Riley Shinn are just some of the cornerstone players that graduated at the end of 2021.
Those players did leave behind quite a legacy though; a win streak of 25 games, including the playoffs.
The Eagles seem to appreciate just how difficult the road to a three-peat will be without those cornerstone players.
“All those guys were all-stars in this program and losing them is definitely a big loss,” said senior Brady Bagenstose. “They meant a lot to this program and they were sort of the ones who built it up. It is tough losing those guys.”
“When you look at the last two years and who were the playmakers and who was here, most of our guys now don’t have that much game experience,” added head coach Ron Peduzzi. “They were on the team of course and some of them have it here and there. But it’s definitely going to be a new experience.”
Who are your dudes?
The dudes of Hilton Head Christian can be found up front.
Bagenstose and Matthew Scarpa anchor a veteran offensive line unit that returns four of its five starters.
“It helps out a lot especially with our quarterback situation uncertain right now with the two quarterbacks going after it and fighting for that starting spot,” Scarpa said.
“I think having a solid veteran group, leadership-wise, allows for every other position on the field to kind of develop because our positions (one the line) are set and we’re good to go.”
Scarpa in particular is an impact player; he won a commendation for being the team’s strongest lifter at the start of the 2021 season and does not appear to have given up that title. His bench press max is 395 pounds and his maximum squat is 535 pounds.
What’s up with your coach?
Ron Peduzzi is entering his fifth year coaching the Eagles with a combined record of 42-6, along with three region championships and two of the six state titles in school history.
Winning runs in the Peduzzi family; Ron took the 2020 title with his son, JP, playing quarterback. His daughter, Abby, has been a part of three of the Eagles’ four consecutive girls basketball state titles.
Of course, the football team has become Ron’s de facto extended family.
“He’s a great coach, an amazing coach, he’s very loud and that’s what we love about him, you know?,” said senior Wells Sharp. “He’s a very tough coach too, but he makes us all better.”
When’s the big game?
Look, whenever two state champions are on the same field, we kind of have to make that the team’s biggest game.
Hilton Head Christian Academy will be the center of the Lowcountry football universe on Oct. 7 as the Eagles host the Thomas Heyward Academy Rebels.
These two teams won titles on the same day in 2021 at the SCISA championships in Charleston; Hilton Head Christian in Class 2A and Thomas Heyward in 1A. The Rebels are going for their fifth state title in a row this season.
“That’s one on the calendar that we’re definitely marking off as a big game,” Bagenstose said. “That’s homecoming this year. Yeah, that Thomas Heyward game is going to be very important for us. Very big atmosphere, it’s going to be a big one that we need to win for sure.”
HHCA and Thomas Heyward have combined to go 49-2 over the last two seasons.