Photo above: Beaufort High’s #1 singles tennis player McKenzie Daniel serves the ball during her 6-0, 6-0 win over Cane Bay’s Autumn Leya on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Photos by Bob Sofaly.
By Justin Jarrett
The postseason is just around the corner for fall high school sports teams, and it’s shaping up to be a busy season at Beaufort High School.
While the biggest buzz at BHS is centered on the football team’s first 5-0 start since 2013, the Eagles’ success this fall goes well beyond the football field.
The girls tennis and volleyball teams both sit in second place in Region 8-4A, the cross country and girls golf teams have had athletes claim individual wins, and the swim team is gearing up for the S.C. High School League state meet.
“Our Eagle fall sports teams are off to fantastic starts,” BHS athletics director Linc Lyles said. “We have now started region play in all sports and have crucial contests this week that will determine upcoming playoff seeding spots.”
The Eagles’ football team continued its perfect start to the season with a 56-3 rout of R.B. Stall to open region play Sept. 29 and will travel to Colleton County for another region matchup on Oct. 6. BHS is looking to win its first six games to start the season for the first time since a 9-0 start in 2008.
BHS has outscored opponents 168-54 through five games thanks to a powerful running game and a dominant defense. Running back Kyleik Middleton is putting up huge numbers on the ground — 655 yards and eight touchdowns — with the help of strong offensive line play, and quarterback Jeffrey Smyth has been efficient passing the ball while also helping in the ground game.
The BHS defense has held its last two opponents in single digits, with Reid Daughtry (seven tackles for loss, five sacks) and Brendan Bowersox (three tackles for loss, four sacks) wreaking havoc in opposing backfields and Smyth and Reggie Jones causing problems for quarterbacks with three interceptions apiece.
The Eagles have two huge region matchups remaining at home with defending Region 8-4A champion Berkeley visiting on Oct. 13 and Cane Bay coming in on Oct. 20 before wrapping up the regular season at Hilton Head Island High School on Oct. 27.
The cross-county rivalry with the Seahawks is heating up in other fall sports, too. The BHS girls tennis team is 7-1, with the only loss coming to Hilton Head High.
The Eagles get a rematch with the Seahawks at home on Oct. 10, and they need to swing only one singles match in their favor from last month’s 4-2 loss to force a winner-take-all match at No. 1 doubles. The Eagles have not lost an individual match in their seven victories, and McKenzie Daniel and Lucy Bruns are undefeated in singles play.
BHS also trails Hilton Head High in the Region 8-4A volleyball standings, as the Seahawks have handed the Eagles their only two losses in region play. Finishing second in the region would allow BHS to host a first-round match in the Class 4A playoffs.
Most encouraging of all for the Eagles is the fact that their statistical leaders in virtually every category — freshman Chase Vaigneur (108 kills), sophomore Madison Gallion (196 assists, 55 aces), and freshman Caroline Malphrus (199 digs) — are underclassmen.
The BHS cross country team also is leaning on talented youngsters, as freshman Marlon Belden and eighth-grader Nash Mills finished first and second in the boys’ 5K race, leading the Eagles to a third-place team finish at the Beaufort County Cross Country Championships.
The BHS girls finished fourth at the county meet, and both teams have two races remaining before the region, Lower State, and state championships.
Individuals on the swimming and girls golf teams also have big hopes for the postseason, especially golfer Izzy Stone, a sophomore who recently won medalist honors at a four-team meet featuring all the Beaufort County public school teams. Stone and the Eagles have one more county meet in Bluffton before the region, Lower State, and state meets.
In other sports news…
• Whale Branch outlasted rival Woodland 20-14 in overtime on Sept. 29 to claim a region win. With the win, Whale Branch improved to 1-4.
Woodland dropped to 2-4 with the loss.
Irvin Mulligan, one of the area’s top high school football players, scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime for Whale Branch. Mulligan delivered two touchdowns in the Warriors’ victory.
• Host Faith Christian Academy prevented Beaufort Academy from claiming its fourth consecutive win on Sept. 29, defeating the Eagles 53-14. Miscues hindered Beaufort Academy’s progress in the game versus Faith Christian. Struggling to take care of the football when it had possession, Beaufort Academy committed six turnovers in the loss.
With the loss, Beaufort Academy stumbled to 3-4.
• A Beaufort High School football cheer clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 7 at the BHS gym. This is for pre-K through 8th grade students. The cost is $35 for pre-registration and $40 for walk-in. Check in starts at 8:30.
Contact Hillary Savarese at email@example.com, 843-322-2000; or Nancy Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.