SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Coming off a 10-win, first-round playoff bye 2021 season, the South Walton football team is looking to raise the bar another notch.

Their first task this fall is to replace graduated quarterback Kemper Hodges, who was the Class 4A offensive player of the year.

“We’ve got two guys battling it out, Carson Hawk and Wells Bentonhausen,” South Walton head football coach, Phil Tisa said. “Carson was our backup quarterback from last year, Wells is a new kid that moved to us in the Spring. So they’re battling every day and hopefully, one of them will just jump and take that position.”

The Hawks are returning a young, but experienced roster with a physical front line.

Senior center, Jack Painter said the offensive unit will be ready for whoever wins the quarterback battle.

“I feel like no matter what we have to protect the best we can, no matter who is up there whether it’s Carson or it’s Wells we just have to do our best job to give them as much time as possible,” Painter said.

Whoever leads the offense will have the most talented receiving options in the state at their disposal.

Rising Senior and University of Georgia four-star commit, Pearce Spurlin is coming off a 74 catch, 1,400 yards, and 20 touchdowns junior season.

Spurlin said there won’t be any drop in production in the passing attack.

“We lost Kemper but we got two really good quarterbacks, two really young quarterbacks, here and they’re competing every day,” Spurlin said. “I think me and all the other guys on the team have faith in both of them to lead and step up and do what we need them to do.”

One concern for the hawks to start the season, Spurlin will miss at least the first regular season game due to a lingering injury.

“We have him and we have another starting receiver out right this second, but it’s forcing other guys to have to step up, and hopefully in the long run makes us better because they’re getting reps they normally wouldn’t get,” Tisa said.

South Walton was placed in a new district with three Bay County teams, Rutherford, Bay and North Bay Haven.

The Seahawks will open their regular season against 1A powerhouse Baker on Friday, August 26.