15 Teams in 15 Days: New campus, new stadium, same mentality for Hilton Head Christian Academy

Sports

BLUFFTON S.C. (WSAV) – Only two football teams in WSAV’s viewing area won state championships in 2020. Hilton Head Christian Academy is one of them.

Take a visit to one of their practices and its easy to see why the Eagles ran through their schedule. The pace is nonstop, with players going through drills at breakneck speed, tightly adhering to the first rule of HHCA training camp.

“There’s no walking,” explains head coach Ron Peduzzi. “No walking on the field.”

“We’re really hungry for that state championship,” said senior Jackson Lanier. “You really want that, you want that desire and you’re trying to strive for greatness the entire season.”

The Eagles achieved greatness in 2020, putting a painful state championship loss the year prior behind them by blasting Carolina Academy, 42-14, in the season’s final game.

That Hilton Head Christian team was largely spurred by an offensive attack that averaged nearly 45 points per game.

“The best thing we’ve got going for us is definitely our offense. Our offense, it’s always been great. We’ve already been an aerial team and that won’t change this year,” said senior Jace Blackshear.

Blackshear is now at the reins of that offense after splitting QB time with now-graduated senior J.P. Peduzzi in 2020. Peduzzi, the program’s all-time leading points scorer, is now playing football at Lenoir-Rhyne in North Carolina.

“He was always a positive teammate,” said Ron Peduzzi, J.P’s father. “He never came home and complained about any of his teammates. He was always positive on the field every day and every game. And he always wanted the ball.”

“I’ll definitely have to step up and be more of that vocal leader to the underclassmen coming up,” Blackshear said.

Quarterback is far from the only area of change at Hilton Head Christian Academy this year. The school relocated to a new Bluffton campus last Spring, a change that came with a shiny new football stadium.

“We’re going to have it be up-tempo there for our home games,” Peduzzi said. “The fans are gonna be up-tempo, the student section is gonna be up-tempo, so everybody’s gonna be up-tempo.”

That go-go attitude is one thing about the team that will never change.

“I just want to make sure everybody knows that we’re going for another state title this year,” Lanier said. “We’re going for a clean slate and we’re coming back even harder.”

HHCA’s football schedule for 2021, courtesy of Hilton Head Christian Academy’s athletics website

The biggest obstacle to the Eagles’ quest for a clean slate probably comes in the squad’s final home regular season game against Beaufort Academy on October 22.

There will also be substantial change on the defensive side of the ball, where the Eagles will have to replace eight of 11 starters from 2020.

Junior Matt Scarpa claimed the offseason mantle of the team’s strongest man, squatting 475 pounds over the summer workout sessions.

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