Already youthful and inexperienced going in, the Hanahan High School football team had to deal with additional adversity in the form of injuries this fall.
It exacerbated a season of struggles.
The Hawks earned just a single victory celebration, going 1-8 overall and 1-4 in the region, and missed out on the Class 3A playoffs. It was a step back from 2018, when the Hawks won the region championship and made the third round of the playoffs.
The Hawks averaged 12 points a game while allowing 35 to the opposition.
“We had a fair amount of young players and got bitten by the injury bug a good bit,” Hawks coach David Morbitzer said, “but there were some positives. Toward the end of the season we were able to find our identity.”
The Hawks did improve running the ball as the year rolled along and bring many key pieces offensively. Junior quarterback Jonathan Shelton took over in region play and made strides. Sophomore running back Josh Shaw will be another key player returning on offense along with junior halfback Alex Herriott. Junior Braelyn Smith-Moore will be back from a knee injury and figures to contribute on the ground next season.
Shaw led all Hawks rushers with 611 yards and went over the 100-yard mark twice. Shelton went for 234 yards on the ground over the final four games and passed for 276 yards.
The weaponry will be working behind an experienced front in 2020. Linemen Andrew Stewart, Foster Nicodine, Matt Ancell and Lyndley Smith will be returning starters in the trenches.
“Having all those guys back will be big,” Morbitzer said. “Looking at what we have coming up from JV, we’re optimistic about 2020. We’ve got some guys that have been in the system a little bit. Now, everybody has to get stronger and continue to mature.”
On defense, the Hawks will be able to build around Herriott, the cornerstone at inside linebacker. Herriott, a junior, had approximately 120 total tackles and will finish among the Lowcountry’s top tacklers in the final stats when the season is complete.
“He was voted team captain at the beginning of the season by his teammates,” Morbitzer said. “That says a lot. He’s a great leader and a great football player. It’s no surprise to me he’s been one of the Lowcountry’s leading tacklers because of the effort and work he puts in.”
Junior defensive linemen Kai Buffalo and Owen Smith will be back up front and Shaw will be a returner on the second level along with junior Archer Cooper.
Junior Zac Holmes will be a returning starter in the secondary.
Punter/kicker Blake Morros was just a sophomore. He was 3 of 4 on field goals with a long of 36 yards.