Gators back to business
Getting back to football was likely more of a relief to Goose Creek High School than it was to any other team in the state.
The Gators finished their first spring practice earlier this month after last season’s drama saw them booted out of the playoffs for a rules violation. The uproar over the harshness of the penalty carried over until at least March when the members of the South Carolina High School League agreed to make changes to the constitution under pressure from state legislators.
But now it’s back to business for the Gators, who look to build on their past successes. Counting last season’s 13-0 record, Goose Creek has won 40 of its last 42 games.
“We are excited to be on the field and preparing for the 2013 season,” Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy said, “Obviously we lost some great players from last year’s team but have a good nucleus coming back. The expectations for this team are high and their work ethic and attitude are exceptional.”
It all starts in the Gators’ option offense with quarterback Dantez Bennamon, who will be a senior next fall. In 2012, he passed for 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for 535 more and six touchdowns.
Rising senior Caleb Kinlaw is the top back returning. He had 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“He’s bigger, stronger and faster, and ready to have a great season,” Reedy said.
Rising seniors Jordan Barnes and Kalan Ritchie are the top pass catchers returning. They combined for 13 grabs, 170 yards and five scores.
Rising junior Deondre Daniels moves over from defense to play wide receiver and brings with him a bundle of speed. He qualified for the state track and field meet as a sprinter this spring.
Tackles Tyler Hood (6-2, 270) and Trey Simmons (6-1, 310), a pair of rising seniors, are returning starters on the offensive front.
On defense, the Gators will bring back four of the top seven tacklers, including rising senior linebackers Daylin Julius and Shaquille Salley.
Cornerback Omar McRae is back too after making 11 interceptions. Reedy calls both of his corners “outstanding,” including Andre Rhodes.
Daquan White is returning along a defense line that lost three Division I players.
“As usual, we’ve got work to do,” Reedy said. “The summer is an important time in getting ready for the season.”
Translation: Reedy expects his players in the weight room.
Teams can begin practice Aug. 2 with the first live scrimmages against another opponent on Aug. 8.
The regular season will begin statewide on Aug. 29, though some teams will have Week 0 games on Aug. 22.