High School Football

Hilton Head Christian opens SCISAA football playoffs vs. Calhoun Academy

mmccombs@islandpacket.comNovember 2, 2012 

Coach Tommy Lewis and Hilton Head Christian Academy open their quest for another SCISAA Class 2-A state championship tonight when they host Calhoun Academy (5-5).

But the Eagles (9-1) are going to start that journey with limited participation from their jack-of-all-trades.

Hilton Head Christian's top running back Tyler Chisholm, still recovering from a bone bruise he suffered two weeks ago, has been medically cleared to play. But Lewis plans on allowing Chisholm, also a starter on defense, to see only limited action.

"As of now, (Chisholm) will be handling kicking duties and only play offense if necessary," Lewis said.

Thomas Nienow has made two of six extra points in relief of Chisholm.

"We're certainly not taking Calhoun lightly," Lewis said. "But we just want to have our strongest, healthiest running back in the backfield, and that would be D'Angelo (Clark). Tyler can be available, but I'd rather not play him if I don't have to."

Clark finished with 140 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries last week in a 38-7 win over Hilton Head Prep.

With or without Chisholm, Lewis has been concerned this season with a little bit of inconsistency on offense.

"I really don't think we've had a game where we were just clicking on all cylinders, at least recently," Lewis said. "Be it execution, turnovers or whatever, we just haven't hit a strong rhythm."

While the offense has been inconsistent, the defense has been steady as a rock.

"We've been able to create turnovers and get three-and-outs," Lewis said. "I like the way they've been playing all year."

The defense has picked up the slack when the offense has faltered as the Eagles have run to a 9-1 record.

"I think, really that's the only reason we were able to beat Thomas Heyward, besides the injury to Rebels quarterback JD) Tuten, off course," Lewis said. "We fumbled the ball in the red zone at least three times. You do that against Thomas Heyward, you're not supposed to come out of that with a win.

"Over the course of the playoffs, I think we're good enough on defense to get us through."

That defense will be tested for the first time tonight against the flex option of Calhoun Academy.

"They just run an offense you don't see very often. It's hard to get ready for an offense you don't see in one week," Lewis said. "That's been a challenge to run it at game speed."

Lewis uttered a familiar refrain when it comes to defending the option -- assignment football. He said his players need to trust their teammates and try to do too much as individuals, or risk hurting the team.

"They can't be lulled to sleep, they have to keep doing their job," Lewis said. "Up until this point, they've been able to do it against the option teams we've faced. No reason to think they can't do it (tonight)."

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