St. James’ Deondray Standfield scores in the game with Hilton Head on Friday. St. James won 24-10. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Tommy Norwood tried to nix the Gatorade bath. He raised his hand and shouted at his team to turn it around.

Moments later, he was commenting how his dousing wasn’t followed by swarming bugs.

The St. James football coach had just watched his team do something that only one other squad had accomplished in the first 16 seasons of Sharks football. They won their first two games of the year with a 24-10 victory over Hilton Head.

Considering that exactly half of the St. James teams have won two or fewer games in a season, and, yes, the post-game celebration seemed to make a bit more sense.

“Our kids are different,” Norwood said. “It started with Coach [Joey] Price and we kept after it. Some things have changed. … Now, they kind of believe they’re pretty good. I think that’s a whole lot of it.”

It’s not as if Friday was some perfectly played football game from the Sharks. There were a few mental mistakes along the way, a handful of blown defensive coverages and even two penalties that wiped out scores.

But all of that was dwarfed by what St. James did right.

Senior running back and receiver Deondray Stanfield scored a pair of touchdowns, including a highlight-reel-worthy 66-yard reception in the first quarter, and finished with 146 yards through the air and another 45 on the ground. He also blocked a punt.

Malachi Butler rushed for 74 yards, and quarterback Ethan White passed for 176 while rushing for another 85.

And the defense muscled up on a talented Hilton Head offense that last week scored 38 points but couldn’t find the end zone in the final 33-plus minutes this time around. It’s also necessary to point out that a Seahawks squad that featured many of the same weapons won the match-up 34-0 one year ago.

“We’re way better. Our focus is way better. Our confidence on the field is way better,” Stanfield said. “In the past years, our confidence was low. We’re trying to change that.”

The confidence was on display in this one, especially when a Hilton Head roster that was just 25 deep started to show some of its wear and tear from the first three quarters. St. James held possession for nearly 8 minutes in the final quarter and picked off Hilton Head quarterback Gaston Moore near the end zone in the Seahawks’ lone real chance to narrow the gap late.

The Sharks continued to put pressure on their opponents, something they haven’t been able to do all that much over the years.

Norwood was hesitant to make too much of one game, again pointing out that this is only the first two weeks of a 10-week regular season. Still, for a program that has shown just how much of struggle it can be, this was a milestone.

“Who knows?” Norwood said. “We’ve got a lot of trips on this journey.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


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