Beaufort High School welcomes Carolina Forest on Friday. The Eagles are 2-2 after their comeback fell short in a loss to Cane Bay last week. The Carolina Forest game marks the end of a four-game home stretch for Beaufort High, which travels to Goose Creek and Bluffton High School the next two weeks.
For the scoop on the Panthers, I asked Ian Guerin to answer a few questions.
Ian covered Coastal Carolina athletics for The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News. He now covers high school sports as a correspondent for the paper and knows his stuff. You can read his Prep Talk blog here (and see his pick for Friday's game).
Question: Carolina Forest is only 1-4. Why should Beaufort High fans be wary?
Answer: As I've said for the last couple weeks, Carolina Forest may be one of the best, if not the best, 1-4 teams in the state. The Panthers, like Beaufort High, beefed up their non-region schedule. It was going to lead to some losses, especially after everyone found out that a Week 0 loss to Socastee turned out not be a surprise. Head coach Drew Hummel has former S.C. State and Norfolk State offensive coordinator Joe Blackwell now running the offense, and it's been on the verge of breaking out in a big way. Sophomore quarterback Will Brunson is a tall kid already starting to receive some significant college interest and he's a threat to throw for 250-300 yards every Friday.
Q: Tailback Harold Atkinson is being heavily recruited by a number of BCS schools. What does he do well?
A: Lately, he's been a heck of a team player. A major injury on the defensive side of the ball forced Atkinson to start playing a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid spot. As a result, he's playing much less on offense (last week against Myrtle Beach, he had just one rush and two receptions in the second half). However, when he is playing offense, he's got the ability to draw a lot of attention because he is so good running the ball. He's typically not a big fumble risk, and he's quite adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. It's helped Brunson's development greatly because it opens up passing lanes both in the middle of the field and on the outside. If defenses shift linebackers or safeties off the line, he also as big as many of the defensive linemen trying to tackle him. I've seen him drag four defenders for extra yardage on multiple occasions the last two seasons.
Q: What, if anything, can Carolina Forest do to try and slow the Eagles' run game?
A: Outside of loading the box, there may not be much the Panthers can do. Their best personnel, for the most part, is on offense (a big reason why they're averaging 25 points per game despite being 1-4). The trick for Carolina Forest is finding a way to prevent Mixon and Co. from going crazy early, something Hummel's team hasn't had much success with. The Panthers are getting outscored 119-51 in the first half of their first five games, and it's caused a post-halftime one-dimensional attack.