HARTSVILLE, S.C. — The Hartsville Red Foxes certainly seem like a different team from the season’s start.
But today’s second-round playoff opponent, Beaufort, still has the Red Foxes beat by a long shot in that regard.
“It’s a tale of two seasons for them,” HHS coach Jeff Calabrese said. “I think they started out 0-5 and their starting quarterback got hurt. They kind of changed to an option-based offense, and they’ve taken off.”
The Eagles (4-5) were winless to begin with, but carry a four-game winning streak into today’s 7:30 p.m. matchup in Beaufort. After being outscored 216-87 through five games, BHS has held a 131-87 advantage during its winning streak and hasn’t allowed more than 21 points each of its last three games.
“They beat May River, who is an eight-win team, and they swept their conference,” Calabrese said. “We’re seeing a different football team than the one that lost those first five games.”
Quarterback Tyler Haley originally led a pass-happy offense for the Eagles with 838 yards and four touchdowns. After Haley suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, receiver Daniel Phares took over, and the option took hold. Phares has rushed for 445 yards and six scores while running back James Dagin has 869 and eight.
Throw in Amariee Morris’ 338 yards and two TDs, that’s a lot to prepare for in one week.
“It’s certainly not something we’ve seen all year,” Calabrese said. “North Myrtle Beach would be similar, but they’re still a lot different. It’s been quite the challenge getting ready for them.”
In a rare occurrence as well, the Eagles had a first-round bye last week, so Calabrese is expecting a few more offensive wrinkles.
“We don’t know,” he said. “We can only prepare for what we see, but I think we have to be ready to adjust to what we haven’t seen. That’s biggest thing is for our players to be educated enough and be on their toes and ready to switch gears when they have to.”
The Red Foxes (8-3) have found another gear as of late and carry a five-game winning streak into tonight’s matchup. The defense hasn’t allowed more than 16 points in any of those games while the offense has averaged 37.2 points during that span.
“They’re very multiple in what they do, which is difficult in and of itself,” Calabrese said of facing the Eagles’ defense. “They have one of the best freshman defensive linemen (Eamon Smalls) that I’ve ever seen. He’s 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and can run. They have another big interior defensive lineman and they play exceptionally hard. They adjust throughout the game, and they have some very talented players.”