Tick tock… Football season nears
In a little more than one week, the sun will come up on a brand new high school football season.
The first day of practice is Friday, Aug. 2 and teams can begin hitting opponents on Thursday, Aug. 8 so area squads will likely be involved in their first scrimmages of the summer that day or Friday.
Perhaps no area team will be more eager for the dawning of the season than the Goose Creek Gators. A year ago, they were booted from the playoffs for using an ineligible player. The incident kept the Gators from defending their Class AAAA Div. II crown.
They were 13-0 before their season was truncated.
“Obviously we lost some great players from last year’s team but we have a good nucleus coming back,” said Gators coach Chuck Reedy, whose team has won 40 of its last 42 games. “The expectations for this team are high and their work ethic and attitude are exceptional.”
Among the top players returning for Goose Creek are senior quarterback Dantez Bennamon, who passed for 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 535 more and six touchdowns last fall. Senior Caleb Kinlaw is the top back returning. He had 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Tight end Kalan Ritchie is a commitment to South Carolina.
On defense, the Gators bring back four of the top seven tacklers, including senior linebackers Daylin Julius and Shaquille Salley.
Cornerback Omar McRae is back too after making 11 interceptions.
Goose Creek opens the season on Aug. 30 at Ashley Ridge.
Stratford also has plenty of reason to be excited. The Knights are coming off a 10-3 season, their best mark since 2006, and have one of the premier quarterbacks in the county in senior Jacob Park.
Park (6-4, 205) who combined for nearly 2,700 yards passing and rushing last season was recently named an Elite 11 quarterback. He is committed to Georgia.
“He makes me look like a good coach a lot of times, like I called the right play,” Stratford offensive coordinator Dennie McDaniel said. “He’s got a lot of confidence in what he can do. The other players have confidence in him that he’s going to put the ball where it’s supposed to be.”
Running back/receiver Jordan Johnson, another senior, is poised to have a breakout season too.
On the other side of the ball, the Knights are set to return seven starters, including safety Taylor Morrison. He had 10 interceptions last season, while cornerback Sheldon Reid made seven interceptions.
They will also bring back inside linebacker Cecil Smith, outside linebacker T.J. Deveaux and defensive lineman Stephen Hill.
Stratford hosts Berkeley on Aug. 30 to begin the season.
Cane Bay will be in its second year as a Class AAAA school after going 6-6 last season and making the playoffs. The Cobras were in battles every week, coach Russell Zehr remembered.
“That’s the biggest difference between Class AAA and Class AAAA,” Zehr said. “… It’s a grind. Every team is good. That’s Class AAAA football. Last year, there was never a game we could rest our starters in the fourth quarter.”
On offense, the Cobras have experienced players coming back in quarterback Devin Kilgore and running back Ramonte Frasier.
Defensively, junior linebacker Matt Rudy is the top tackler returning.
Cane Bay opens at Summerville on Aug. 29.
Hanahan was 11-2 and advanced to the third round of the Class AAA playoffs last fall. The Hawks bring back 10 starters on defense, including linebacker Lyndon Young and defensive back Marlon Washington.
Offensively, the Hawks will be the lone local squad with a new quarterback. Mason Schwerzler takes over for North-South selection Anthony Smalls.
Terrell Green, at 6 feet, 7 inches, figures to be one of the top receivers in the area.
Aug. 29 – at Summerville
Sept. 6 – vs. Fort Dorchester
Sept. 13 – at Berkeley
Sept. 20 – vs. Beaufort
Sept. 27 – at Ashley Ridge
Oct. 4 – vs. Colleton County
Oct. 11 – vs. Stratford
Oct. 18 – vs. Goose Creek
Oct. 24 – at West Florence
Nov. 1 – at Wando
Nov. 8 – vs. West Ashley
Aug. 30 – at Ashley Ridge
Sept. 6 – vs. Colleton County
Sept. 13 – at Summerville
Sept. 20 – vs. Fort Dorchester
Sept. 27 – vs. Dutch Fork
Oct. 4 – at Beaufort
Oct. 11 – at Carolina Forest
Oct. 18 – at Cane Bay
Oct. 25 – vs. Wando
Nov. 1 – vs. West Ashley
Nov. 8 – at Stratford
Aug. 23 – vs. Military Magnet
Aug. 30 – vs. Timberland
Sept. 6 – at Bishop England
Sept. 20 – at Edisto
Sept. 27 – vs. Wade Hampton (Hampton)
Oct. 4 – at Orangeburg-Wilkinson
Oct. 11 – vs. Berkeley
Oct. 18 – at James Island
Oct. 25 – vs. Hilton Head
Nov. 1 – vs. Stall
Aug. 30 – vs. Berkeley
Sept. 6 – at Sumter
Sept. 13 – at Fort Dorchester
Sept. 20 - vs. Ashley Ridge
Sept. 27 – at Colleton County
Oct. 4 – vs. Summerville
Oct. 11 – at. Cane Bay
Oct. 18 – vs. Wando
Oct. 25 – at West Ashley
Nov. 1 – at South Florence
Nov. 8 – vs. Goose Creek