Sunrise on Friday morning signals the beginning of a new high school football season.
On each side of the city, there is reason to be optimistic about what could unfold for Goose Creek and Stratford this fall.
“The expectations for Goose Creek football are very high and we anticipate that this year's team will be very competitive,” GCHS coach Chuck Reedy said. “… We have had as good a summer of workouts as any team and we are looking forward to getting on the field.”
The Gators will be strong again at the skill positions. They have experienced players at quarterback, tailback, wide receiver and tight end. The interior of the offensive line returns also.
On defense, Goose Creek should be solid, especially in the back seven – four senior linebackers, two talented corners and a starting safety returning.
Last season, the Gators finished 12-1 after getting upset in the second round of the Class AAAA Div. II playoffs by South Pointe.
Teams can hold their first preseason scrimmages on Friday, Aug. 8.
The Gators will host North Augusta at 10:30 a.m.
At Stratford, the sun will not only come up on a brand new season, it will signal the start of the Joe Marion era on Crowfield Boulevard.
Marion takes over for Ray Stackley, who retired after winning 270 games and one state title in 29 seasons. He guided the Knights to the championship game last season but lost to Northwestern.
Marion was defensive coordinator.
“I just hope I can do over half of the job Ray did with the program,” Marion said. “I learned as a young coach under him. I don't know much other way. We're going to try to continue to do the things he did here and keep the success going.”
Marion admits it's going to feel odd at first without Stackley on the sidelines.
“I'm sure it's going to be strange to start the season,” he said. “I've been a hands-on coach for so long, teaching steps and tackling. But I don't want to micromanage. Ray let his assistants coach… A lot of guys on this staff could be head coaches and I'm going to let them coach.”
The Knights travel to Colleton County Aug. 8 for a 10 a.m. scrimmage.
Stratford will break in a new quarterback, replacing 2013 Mr. Football Jacob Park. He is now at UGA. The Knights also lost a lot of key players on the defensive side of the ball.
In Hanahan, the Hawks are coming off their second straight 11-win season.
They travel to West Ashley for a scrimmage on Aug. 8 at 10 a.m.
The Hawks open the regular season on Aug. 22 at home against James Island in Week 0. Stratford and Goose Creek open on Aug. 29.
Hanahan coach Charlie Patterson said he likes playing in Week 0. To boot, the James Island game will be televised all over the Lowcountry on myTV Charleston.
“I think that will add a little more to the game,” he said. “… Playing in Week 0 also gives you a chance some time during the regular season to have a week off so you can work on fundamentals or heal up some players if you have to.”
Cane Bay will also open the regular season in Week 0, at home against Colleton County.
The Cobras are looking to bounce back from a winless season. CBHS coach Russell Zehr is optimistic.
"I think we've got the components to be successful," he said. "It depends on how hard everybody is willing to work. If they decide to do the things they're supposed to do they can win some ballgames. But everybody on our schedule is tough. We've got a chance to be 11-0 or 0-11, or somewhere in between."
Cane Bay's first preseason scrimmage is set for Saturday, Aug. 9 at Timberland at 10 a.m.