Smith takes on young team at Hilton Head Christian
By David Shelton
Hilton Head – Saying his 2015 team is “real young” might be understating the level of experience that Hilton Head Christian Academy football coach Matt Smith has this season.
Smith takes over the program after working as defensive coordinator under the previous head coach, Ryan Mitch, who resigned last spring. Smith has been a head coach before, posting a 24-13 record in three years at Bible Baptist, so he understands how to deal with personnel.
The Eagles roster in 2015 has only a handful of seniors. In Smith’s preseason projection, he listed only four seniors as potential starters. In terms of production, the Eagles lost all of their top line performers, including quarterback Ryan Barrett, athlete Brad Meccariello and running back DeAngelo Clark.
This year’s team could have as many as 10 positions filled by starters that are freshmen or sophomores.
The Eagles opened the 2015 season in week zero with a game against Trinity-Byrnes on August 21. The end result was a defeat but the young edition of players were able to get their collective feet wet heading into a bye week.
Offensively, Smith says seniors Andy Ballard (5-10,180) and Jake Heller (5-9, 160) will share duties at quarterback. Ballard is the better runner of the two and had 87 yards rushing in the opener. He also connected with R.J. Bartolomucci on a 75-yard touchdown pass.
Manning the running back positions are sophomore Chandler Edmonds (5-10, 170) and freshman Zachariah Doe (5-11, 170). The starting receiving corps includes senior Joey Lankowski (5-9, 155) and sophomore John Burke (5-9, 150). Junior Cole Webster (6-2, 190) will be the starting tight end.
The lone senior listed as a projected starter on the offensive line is right guard Mac Viljac (5-9, 165). The starting tackles figure to be juniors Holden Whitt (6-1, 250) and Jack Allen (6-3, 230). Working at left guard is freshman Jacob Zook (5-8, 160) while freshman Luke Garrett (5-9, 190) is the starting center.
Viljac, at linebacker, could be the lone starting senior on the defensive side of the ball. The other linebackers include juniors James Bartholomew (5-9, 150) and Craig Oliver (6-0, 190), and sophomore Connor Hardy (5-9, 160). Bartholomew had an interception return for a touchdown in the opener.
Working as the starting defensive front in the 3-4 look are juniors Jefferson Dail (6-0, 190) and Josh Griz (5-11, 185), along with freshman Lucas O’Grady (6-0, 160).
Junior Zach Whitton (5-9, 170) is the leader of the defensive backfield. Sophomores Reese Woods (6-0, 150) and John Blackshire (5-11, 150) are working as starters, along with freshman Ben Viljac (5-9, 145).
Following the bye week, Hilton Head Christian returns to action against Bible Baptist on September 4th, followed by a home game against SCISA AA defending state champion Northwood Academy.