Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Week 5 preview/wk 4 recap

Another week of high school football is upon us. Anything can happen in a week of football. Last week was one where Dorchester County teams were supposed to show their stuff. Summerville was hosting Wando; Fort Dorchester was hosting Goose Creek; and Ashley Ridge was hosting Stratford.

In these three games combined, the three road teams beat the three Dorchester County schools by a combined 76 points, 104-28. Summerville lost 37-14 without their starting QB Sawyer Bridges, Ashley Ridge was blown out 49-14, and Fort D played well, but lost 17-0. You can't expect anything when we are talking about 15-18 year olds who are on momentum. That's why they play the games. It is amazing that after this week, many schools will be half over with their seasons.

There were several other interesting games last week. Hanahan beat Cane Bay on Saturday afternoon, keeping their momentum going as they head toward region play; while West Ashley lost at Colleton County, who really needed a win. Berkeley had the week off. James Island won 31-6 at St. John's, moving to 4-1 on the year. Bluffton won at Whale Branch, but only by two touchdowns, 34-20.

Walt Fagan of Hanahan and KJ Wood of Goose Creek were the two players of the week this week from the Post and Courier. Fagan threw for 329 yards in the win against Cane Bay. Wood had 11 tackles, recovering 2 fumbles in Goose Creek holding Fort Dorchester to just 99 yards of offense. Xavier Young of Stratford was Channel 5's player of the week, as he had 199 yards rushing and 4 TDs in their win.

Before I get into this week's previews, I would like to offer condolences to a very sad loss that all have had in the community this week. Clemson sophomore political science major Tucker Hipps died on Monday after falling off a bridge near Lake Hartwell. There have been many remembrances of him over the past few days. He was a Palmetto Boys' State counselor, but he also was a football player at Wren High School.

He was a DB and LB for the Hurricanes from 2009-2012, and an honor student through HS and college. He was a model citizen. This is a sad loss not just for Clemson University, but for the entire state of South Carolina. Here is a picture of him at his senior night. Prayers to him, his family, his girlfriend Katie Clouse, and his many other friends.


Now, on to the previews. A lot of teams are taking the week off because it is right before region play, so therefore there are fewer games. All games will be Friday night at 7:30 unless otherwise noted.

4A: Eastern Christian Academy (1-4) at Goose Creek (3-1): This game has been one planned in the works for years. Eastern Christian is based out of Elkton, Maryland, near Wilmington, Delaware. The team is filled with prospects. One of them is QB David Sills, who signed with Southern California in 7th or 8th grade. However, he has switched to West Virginia. He has been hurt the past few games, so the Honey Badgers (like Tyrann Mathieu) have had to rely on a backup QB.

ECU had to play three straight games in Texas, losing to Trinity, Desoto and Coppell. In the season's first game, they defeated Spartanburg 58-56. Eastern has several major prospects alongside Sills, including WR Freddie Canteen, who is going to Michigan. Another prospect, Neiko Cramer, is going to Tennessee. They will have to face a tough opponent in Goose Creek, one of the best teams in the Lowcountry, and they definitely showed it after last week's game. Can they continue their winning ways?

Ashley Ridge (4-1) at Cane Bay (2-3): Both Ashley Ridge and Cane Bay suffered tough losses last week. AR losing to Stratford was a surprise, even though Stratford is the more established program. AR had scored at least 27 in their previous four games, but only scored 14 this game. They trailed 49-0 at one point in last week's game.

They hope to bounce back this week. Cane Bay, on the other hand, has played very close in all five of their games so far. Them along with James Island are the two most improved teams in the area. The Cobras are not home again after this for four weeks, as they face a bye week next before region play, then a stretch at Stratford and at Goose Creek before they host James Island on October 24. AR and Cane Bay have played since they started as schools, so this is always a good game. Who will come out on top?

Bishop England (0-4) at James Island (4-1): James Island, the other surprise team in the Lowcountry this year, is 4-1. Even with the schedule they have played (only 2 4A teams), they have still played well, with the only loss to Ashley Ridge. They have wins over Hanahan and Colleton County, both surprises. This week, they face Bishop England for the first time since 1996.

It is hard to believe that the Trojans haven't played Bishop England in football in that long, as they share some of the same territory, and both have good fan bases. Bishop England hasn't started 0-4 in a season since 1997. They hope to get their first win of the season in this game, while with a win, the Trojans would start 5-1 for the first time since 2000. This will be an interesting battle.

Hanahan (2-2) at Stratford (2-2): Both Stratford and Hanahan had nice bounce-back wins last week. These 2-2 football teams will battle in Goose Creek Friday night in a game where the winner will go over .500, and gain momentum. Stratford travels to Summerville after this, who looks much different after last week's loss. Hanahan starts region play next; they had an early bye week. The QB battle between Fagan and Jameson Mobbs of Stratford will be one to watch for. This will be a tight game.

Fort Dorchester (4-1) at Wando (3-1): A battle of one-loss teams in Mount Pleasant. One of the better games of the weekend. Both teams will have their second to last tuneup before region play begin in two weeks. Wando have won two straight in gritty fashion, as Coach Jimmy Noonan has brought a tough brand of football east of the Cooper. Fort Dorchester had a tough night last week, but held the vaunted Goose Creek offense to just 17 points.

This game, with most of Wando's weapons (including QB Bailey Hart and RB Kenny Waring) will be a humdinger, with a lot of great skill position play. Fort D is known for defense, Wando offense. The winner gains more momentum heading towards region.

Summerville (3-2) at West Ashley (2-2): Summerville, in two games, has gone from one of the best teams in the state (when they are healthy) to struggling to field a full starting offense. It was a big surprise when Wando blew them out at home last Friday night. Wando had beaten them a few years back in Summerville, but it was a close game until the 4th quarter. This game was a blowout during the entire 2nd half.

West Ashley had a tough loss at Colleton County. After starting 2-0, they are now 2-2. The Wildcats have a tough task ahead of them, but they have beaten Summerville before at West Ashley. They did in 2011 when Caroline Cashion kicked a game winning FG to beat the Green Wave 10-7. Summerville will be angry. West Ashley also. The team that is angriest likely will come out on top in this one.

Hilton Head (4-1) at Bluffton (3-2): Bluffton has bounced back nicely from their poor start, winning three straight games, even though it hasn't been amongst top competition. Hilton Head, at 4-1, starts their march toward the 3A playoffs with this game. Next week their region play begins at Hanahan. This rivalry is an underrated one around the state, as most of the Hilton Head and Bluffton kids know each other, and last year, Hilton Head won by one, 33-32, on a option pitch on a fake XP. This will be a great one.

Colleton County (2-3) at Stall (1-3): Colleton County makes a rare trip to Stall this week. The Cougars had a big win last week in order to get back after losing three of their first four games. Stall is 1-3, and they are looking for an upset on their home field. Colleton County has just two home games after this, South Aiken and Ashley Ridge in the next two weeks after this game.

3A: Loris (4-0) at Georgetown (4-0): Undefeated Loris travels to undefeated Georgetown in a big game in the Grand Strand area. This is the last game before region play for both teams, as region starts next week in the Myrtle Beach area.

Beaufort (2-2) at Manning (3-1): Beaufort makes the long trip to Manning Friday night. They've shut out their last two opponents, Whale Branch and Battery Creek, 21-0 and 51-0. They start region play next week at home against Berkeley.

Richland Northeast (0-4) at Orangeburg-Wilkinson (4-0): Orangeburg-Wilkinson goes for a 5-0 start on Friday night. O-W has given up a whopping 16 points in their first four ball games. The most they've allowed is 10 to Colleton County.

2A: Burke (0-4) at Academic Magnet (3-1): Academic Magnet has had a very good few weeks. RB Nate Schlosser has run for 759 yards in the last three games for the Raptors, including 190 last week in a 34-0 win over Baptist Hill. Magnet is going for a 4-1 start this week while Burke is going for their first win of the season.

Battery Creek (1-3) at Ridgeland/Hardeeville (2-2) (Thursday, 7:30): Another Thursday night TV battle this week, between two teams in opposite directions. Ridgeland beat Military Magnet 48-0, while Battery Creek lost 51-0 to Beaufort. Ridgeland hopes to continue their momentum. This game will air on WSAV's MyTV channel, and WSAV Sunday morning.

Baptist Hill (0-4) at North Charleston (1-3): Baptist Hill still only has twelve points on the year from four games. They will travel to 1-3 North Charleston this week; the Cougars lost last week at Branchville 48-30. Both hope for a bounce back.

Whale Branch (0-4) at Windsor Forest (GA) (0-4): Winless Whale Branch and Windsor Forest play each other in Savannah Friday night. This game is Windsor Forest's homecoming. Windsor lost last week at Screven County (who played St. John's earlier in the year), 36-8.

Andrews (2-2) at Hemingway (4-0): Andrews heads to undefeated Hemingway in an important game, as Hemingway won at Johnsonville last week 14-9.

Berkeley (1-3) at Timberland (5-0) (MyTV Charleston): Berkeley and Timberland are rivals of each other as they are two of the most established programs in Berkeley County. Berkeley has struggled this year, losing three straight after a win against Johnsonville, while Timberland is undefeated this year at 5-0, hoping for a sixth win in a row.

Andrew Miller (Post and Courier HS football reporter) and Scott Eisberg discussed how this was a battle between a long-time power (Berkeley) and a little guy (Timberland) who hasn't been around a while. Both were expecting the little guy to win. We will see Friday night at 7:30.

1A: Lincoln (2-2) at Branchville (2-2): A battle of 2-2 teams getting ready to start region play next week. Will be a good game.

Cross (2-2) at Lake Marion (2-2): Strangely, after Cross lost their first two games at home, they won the first two games of their five-game road swing, and are now at .500. Lake Marion blew out Burke last week, 56-6. This will be a good battle.

Military Magnet (1-3) at Scott's Branch (1-3): Military Magnet had a tough week last week, losing 48-0 to Ridgeland-Hardeeville, while Scott's Branch lost 27-0 to Cross at home. They battle this week.

SCISA: Colleton Prep (3-1, 1-0) at St. Andrew's (1-3, 1-0): Colleton Prep won this by two touchdowns last year.
Thomas Heyward (2-2, 1-0) at Dorchester Academy (1-4, 0-1): Dorchester Academy badly needs a win to avoid going 0-2 in their region.
Curtis Baptist (3-1) at Hilton Head Prep (3-1, 4:30pm): Curtis Baptist of Augusta makes the long trip to Hilton Head to play Hilton Head Prep on homecoming.
Hilton Head Christian (2-2, 1-1) at Bethesda (1-3): Hilton Head Christian makes the trip to Savannah to play Bethesda, in a battle of two high-scoring teams.
Christian Academy (MB) (1-3, 0-2) at Northwood Academy (4-0, 1-0): Christian Academy heads over to Northwood's new stadium in what will hopefully be their first Friday night game.
Palmetto Christian (0-4) at Bible Baptist (1-3): Palmetto Christian plays their first game after head coach Chris Shimakonis suffered a brutal injury last game. Here is a great story from Channel 4 about it. http://www.abcnews4.com/story/26620381/athlete-of-the-week-palmetto-christians-chris-shimakonis
Heathwood Hall (2-2, 1-2) at Pinewood Prep (2-3, 0-2): Pinewood Prep and Heathwood Hall continue region play this week. Pinewood lost last week against Ben Lippen.
Porter-Gaud (3-2, 1-1) at Ben Lippen (3-2, 2-2): QB Kris Johnson, one of the best SCISA QBs in state, and the Cyclones head to Columbia to face that same Ben Lippen team.
8-Man: Cathedral Academy (2-2, 2-0) at Beaufort Academy (1-3, 1-2): Cathedral puts its undefeated region record on the line as they travel to Coach Scott Richards and Beaufort Academy.
St. John's Christian (2-2, 2-1) at Charleston Collegiate (1-3, 1-1): Charleston Collegiate and St. John's Christian will play in a competitive region game.
Coastal Christian (0-5, 0-3) at James Island Christian (0-4, 0-3): Homecoming at James Island Christian as the two schools battle for somebody's first win of the season.
Faith Christian (4-1, 3-0) at Greenwood Christian (4-0, 3-0): One-loss Faith Christian makes the long trip to Greenwood to play undefeated Greenwood Christian.
Ridge Christian (1-4, 0-2) at Patrick Henry (4-1, 3-0): Patrick Henry, one of the best SCISA teams in the state, hosts Ridge Christian this week.

Hope the weather holds off, and enjoy the games!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 4 preview/wk 3 recap

High school football is something which has stood the test of time in the Lowcountry. As the area has grown from being a military town to one of the most diversified economies in the South, one thing has remained constant. High school football. With more schools spread across the area, there are more opportunities for players to play, and more chances for schools to make rivalries.

Summerville-Goose Creek is one. These schools have been around for several decades each, but Goose Creek was not known as a football school until Chuck Reedy came in 2002. In last week's preview, I detailed his progression in wins and how he built up the program.

John McKissick, on the other hand, has had one of the most historic programs in the country in his reign. Having been the coach since 1952, he has guided Summerville from the days when it was a small country town to now when it is one of the fastest-growing areas in the South. With 10 state titles, the program has always played at a very competitive level.

Last week's game was one of the best of the season and in the series. Delayed by rain, Goose Creek took a big lead (21-0), but Summerville came almost all the way back. A controversial first-down call and a roughing the punter penalty near the end stopped the Green Wave comeback, 21-14, giving Goose Creek an important win.

Other games also meant a lot in the area. Berkeley and Cane Bay played a slop fest in the rain in Moncks Corner; a Matt Rudy blocked punt with under :30 left led to a Phillip Jackson 34-yard FG with :10 left to give the Cobras a 3-0 win. Wando, without their starting QB and RB, pulled a win out at Lexington; Fort Dorchester, led by QB Kobe Garrett, beat Stratford on their home field; Ashley Ridge won at West Ashley to continue their best start in history; Colleton County lost to Orangeburg-Wilkinson; and James Island shut out Stall 49-0.

Porter-Gaud pulled out a win at Bishop England, Academic Magnet's Nate Schlosser, after running for 278 last week, ran for 291 this week in a win against Branchville (569 yards in two games), Beaufort beat Whale Branch, and in two Monday night games, Cathedral Academy beat St. John's Christian, and Northwood Academy, opening up their new field, beat Hilton Head Christian.

This week will be another good one. All games at 7:30 Friday unless noted.

4A: Goose Creek (2-1) @ Fort Dorchester (3-0) (MyTV Charleston): A game between the two best teams in the area per the Post and Courier. This will be a great battle between coaches. Chuck Reedy and Steve LaPrad have done great jobs this year molding their programs into something which their communities should be proud of. Kobe Garrett was the Live 5 Player of the Week this week; he deserved the honor, leading the Patriots to a big road win.

Both teams suffered through adversity last week going through hour-long weather delays to play their games; hopefully this doesn't happen this week, as this is one of the top games in the state this week.

Stratford (1-2) @ Ashley Ridge (4-0): Not that much was expected of Ashley Ridge this year. Many people picked them to compete in the region, but not to compete for a region title. Having good skill players in 4A high school football helps to make your team become a cream of the crop squad. Dashawn Santiago showed that last week at West Ashley with 8 catches for 111 yards and a TD.

Stratford has gone thru some growing pains under Joe Marion, starting 1-2, but they have a chance to turn that around this week with a win at Ashley Ridge. Next week they host Hanahan, then they travel to Summerville.

Wando (2-1) @ Summerville (3-1): A sneaky good matchup from Summerville Friday night. We have to see if some of Wando's skill players will be back. Last week, Wando QB Bailey Hart was injured. He was replaced by Olivier Michaud, a sophomore. Without seven starters, Wando went into Lexington, on their Homecoming, and beat them by two points 25-23. That is one of the most impressive wins by a local team this year.

Summerville had a tough time last week, as they are nursing many of their early season players. Many of the players that were hurt are just coming back now. The Green Wave still have two more games after this before region play, but neither are easy, @ West Ashley and hosting Stratford.

West Ashley (2-1) @ Colleton County (1-3): Colleton County is a surprising 1-3 to start the season. All of their losses have been tough ones, with the largest margin 21-10 last week vs. O-W. Flip a few plays here and there, and we could be talking about a 4-0 team. But we are in the here and now. West Ashley's first road game was a big win at Bishop England. Now, they travel to Colleton County, who badly needs a win. West Ashley has Summerville, @ Fort D, and Wando next. They do not want to go in a slump. Both teams need this game.

Bluffton (2-2) @ Whale Branch (0-3) (Thursday, 7:30): Bluffton will play a rare Thursday night game this week at Whale Branch. This game will be televised live around the Savannah area on MySAV, and aired Sunday morning at 10 on WSAV.

3A: Georgetown (3-0) @ Carvers Bay (0-3): Georgetown is 3-0, and they travel to Carvers Bay, who is 0-3 for the first time in a long time.

Beaufort (1-2) @ Battery Creek (1-2): Something has to give here Friday night. Beaufort hasn't won a road game, while Battery Creek has not won a home game yet on-field this year. Battery Creek lost 55-14 last week to Hilton Head. Beaufort shut out Whale Branch last week 21-0.

Cane Bay (2-2) @ Hanahan (1-2): Much improved Cane Bay plays a Hanahan team that got their first win two weeks ago, shutting out Bishop England. Hanahan has one more road game next week at Stratford before they begin region play the next week against Hilton Head. They have four of their last six on road.

Richland Northeast (0-3) @ Orangeburg-Wilkinson (4-0): Orangeburg-Wilkinson goes for a 5-0 start on Friday night. O-W has given up a whopping 16 points in their first four ball games. The most they've allowed is 10 to Colleton County.

Garrett (3-1) @ Stall (1-2): A all North Charleston battle this week. Garrett is 3-1, and beat Military Magnet 34-6 last week in a big win. Garrett has one more non-region game against Burke next week before region play, while Stall hosts Colleton County next week.

2A: Woodland (2-3) @ Bamberg-Ehrhardt (3-0): After an 0-3 start, Woodland hopes to get back to .500, but they will have to do that against an undefeated Bamberg-Ehrhardt side who beat Barnwell last week.

Academic Magnet (2-1) @ Baptist Hill (0-3): Academic Magnet has looked very good in their last two wins, with Schlosser carrying the load. Baptist Hill has started a rough 0-3, scoring just twelve points in their first three games. Maybe they will end their slump this week.

Timberland (3-0) @ Bishop England (0-3): Bishop England has had a tough time in their first three games. Last week against Porter-Gaud though, they played much better, only losing by three points. Now, the Timberland Wolves come in. For several seasons, this was one of the best rivalries in the Lowcountry when both played in the same region. Now, Timberland plays in a region with mostly Pee Dee and Sumter area teams, but these two still have great battles together.

Branchville (1-2) @ North Charleston (1-2): North Charleston finally got their first win last week at Burke, winning by ten points, 42-32. Now they hope to even their record vs. Branchville.

Green Sea-Floyds (0-4) @ Waccamaw (2-2): 2-2 Waccamaw hopes to bounce back from their seven-point loss at Georgetown with a home game against Green Sea-Floyds.

1A: Burke (0-3) @ Lake Marion (1-2): Lake Marion becomes one of the last teams in the state to open up their home schedule; they started with 3 road games. Burke has already scored 79 points in their first three games; they only scored 72 in ten games last year.

Cross (1-2) @ Scott's Branch (1-2): Scott's Branch and Cross, each 1-2 teams, both hope to get to .500 this Friday night in an important game for each. Scott's Branch won at Burke 2 weeks ago.

Military Magnet (1-2) @ Ridgeland/Hardeeville (1-2): Military Magnet makes the long trip to Ridgeland/Hardeeville; Ridgeland lost last week at Estill.

James Island (3-1) @ St. John's (2-2): James Island makes the short trip to St. John's to play the Islanders. Both teams have been much better this season. St. John's had a tough loss at Screven County (GA) to open the year, but beat 3A Stall and 2A Whale Branch after that before falling 15-7 to Lake View. They become one of the few teams to host schools from all 4 classes, now hosting 4A James Island. The Trojans are 3-1, having shut out an opponent for the first time since 2005 last week against Stall. Buss Hamilton, their RB, ran for 4 TDs last week. This will be an interesting battle.

SCISA: Trinity-Byrnes (3-0) @ Colleton Prep (2-1): 3-0 Trinity-Byrnes travels to Walterboro to play the 2-1 Warhawks.
Pee Dee Academy (0-3) @ Dorchester Academy (0-4): One team will get their first win in this one.
Hilton Head Prep (2-1) @ Palmetto Christian (0-3): A rough start for Palmetto Christian, scoring just 16 in their first 3 games (0, 7, and 9 last week). They hope to improve this week.
Hilton Head Christian (1-2) @ First Baptist (0-4): Hilton Head Christian has a short 3-day turnaround after losing at Northwood Academy Monday night. First Baptist hopes for win #1.
Northwood Academy (3-0) @ Thomas Heyward (2-1): Northwood Academy and P&C Offensive Player of the Week Trevor McNeil, on a short turnaround, will travel to Thomas Heyward.
Pinewood Prep (2-2, 0-1) @ Ben Lippen (2-2, 1-2): Pinewood Prep, led by Louis Vaughan, will travel to Ben Lippen this week.
Hammond (3-0, 3-0) @ Porter-Gaud (3-1, 1-0): Erik Kimrey and Hammond come to Porter-Gaud this week in probably the best statewide SCISA game. PG is led by QB Kris Johnson, who won Channel 4's Athlete of the Week this week.
8-Man: Ridge Christian (1-3) @ Beaufort Academy (0-3): Beaufort Academy hopes to get first win of season on home field.
Cathedral Academy (2-1) @ Carolina Academy (2-1): Cathedral, after a win Monday at St. John's Christian, on three days rest goes to Lake City to play Carolina Academy.
Charleston Collegiate (1-2) @ Patrick Henry (3-1): Charleston Collegiate hopes to play better than last week; they lost 76-0 to Richard Winn.
St. John's Christian (1-2) @ Coastal Christian (0-4): After forfeiting last game, Coastal Christian hopes to have enough bodies to play St. John's. St. John's lost Monday night to Cathedral.
Faith Christian (3-1) @ James Island Christian (0-3): After last week's loss against Andrew Jackson, James Island Christian hopes to bounce back.

It will be another great week in high school football. Hope you enjoy the games!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Week 3 preview/wk 2 recap

Last week was a week which was upside down in football circles. South Carolina and Clemson had both lost their opening games. The Citadel had lost to Coastal Carolina. Goose Creek had lost two football games in a row for the first time since 2008! SC State and Charleston Southern were the only local winners. If you had DirecTV, Channel 5, WCSC was unavailable. Orangeburg viewers were missing Channel 10, WIS.

This week, things seemed to return to normal. Clemson and South Carolina both played well in wins. The Citadel played well against Florida State. Charleston Southern won again. Goose Creek went back to their winning ways. Channel 5 was restored Sunday afternoon.

There were a wealth of good high school games this week in the area. Summerville tore apart Berkeley in the Game of the Week. Even though they only won 48-28, a 48-0 lead at halftime is very impressive against a team the quality of Berkeley. James Island beat Colleton County on a 70 yard tipped pass on fourth down late in the game to go to 2-1. Ashley Ridge, maybe the surprise team in the area this season, beat Wando at home to go to 3-0.

Stall and North Charleston went to four overtimes, actually interrupted by reported gunfire. Stall won 41-40. Porter-Gaud shut out Cardinal Newman, while Scott's Branch won at Burke. Hanahan beat Bishop England for their first win of the season, and Academic Magnet had a big win over Military Magnet with their RB, Nate Schlosser, gaining almost 300 yards.

Here is one of the plays of the year so far in South Carolina. This play decided the Colleton County-James Island game on Friday. It's fourth down, about fifteen yards to go. About three minutes left in the game. James Island is down by four points, 21-17. Trojans QB Gage Moloney is on his own 30 yard line. He throws up it for grabs. Two DBs are tightly covering in a jump ball situation. Watch what happens next. From Neal Kinard.








This week is one of the best weeks of the year. It will be one filled with several huge games, including one between the two best teams in the area. Rain could also be a factor. As I am writing this (Wednesday night), there is a 40% chance of rain for Friday night. It is higher in other parts of the state. It is possible that games could be delayed or postponed. All games start at 7:30 unless noted.

4A: Summerville (3-0) @ Goose Creek (1-1): Summerville and Goose Creek have played some great battles over the years. They are the two best teams and programs in the area, and have major contrasts. Goose Creek was built up with coach Chuck Reedy from the ground up, going from maybe the worst 4A team in the state to the best, while John McKissick's Summerville teams have only had two losing seasons in his entire tenure.

Before Reedy, Goose Creek had just gone through a win less season in 2001, and had won just two playoff games in their entire history, both on the road. Under Reedy, they've won, in order, 1, 5, 8, 7, 9, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14 (the state championship in 2011), 13 (2012, when they were kicked out of playoffs), and 12 games. 

That has to be one of the biggest turnarounds in state history. Now, Goose Creek is one of the best programs in the state. I didn't forget about the game Friday night. Summerville has been banged up lately, losing several of their major players in the Cane Bay game. They beat Berkeley badly last week, in a game which was much worse than the 48-28 score line, but Goose Creek is easily the best team they have played, and maybe the best they'll play all season. Goose Creek, even without Pedro Manigault, and with a new QB, is still one of the best 4A teams in the state. This may be one of the games of the year in the Lowcountry.

Ashley Ridge (3-0) @ West Ashley (2-0): Another very good game. This could be the game of the week on any other week. Two of the better QBs in the Lowcountry, Justin Berry and Steven Duncan, will face off. West Ashley beat Hilton Head last week 60-30, but Ashley Ridge with all of their firepower will be a tougher challenge. West Ashley's home crowd hopes to impact the game, as they helped the Wildcats to be the Channel 2 Team of the Week last week. Their RB, Cameron Byas, was named the Live 5 Five-Star Player of the Week last week.

Ashley Ridge beat a good Wando team at home, bringing themselves to a 3-0 start. This game is a very important one for them, as they host Stratford next, followed by road games at Cane Bay and Goose Creek. Whoever wins this will keep the momentum they have through the early season.

Fort Dorchester (3-0) @ Stratford (1-1): An important battle between two of the better squads in the area. Stratford ran into a buzz saw in Joe Marion's home debut, losing to a Sumter team that made it to the 4A finals last year. Stratford only lost by seven though, so they played the Gamecocks close all game.

Fort Dorchester, on the other hand, has blown out their first three opponents, with the closest game being a 16 point win last week against a game Cane Bay side. Fort D has some great athletes, and a student section called The Riot. They plan on bringing some of them to Stratford this week. Fort Dorchester, led by Kobe Garrett, will hope to engineer a win on the home field of the Knights.

Wando (1-1) @ Lexington (1-1): Wando makes the long trip to Lexington on Friday night. Lexington won 22-0 last week in a road game against a good Blythewood team, and were named the Midlands team of the week by The State. Lexington's RB, Slade Carroll, ran for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns, and DE Michael Manning had an amazing 5 1/2 sacks.

Wando has RB Kenny Waring, QB Bailey Hart and several other good offensive skill players. This battle will be a very interesting one to see between one of the best defenses in the state and one of the best offenses.

Stall (1-1) @ James Island (2-1): A battle of new coaches on the island this week. Joe Bessinger has led an improved Stall team, who won last week after losing 34-8 to St. John's in their opener. James Island is 2-1 on the year, and have played well to open the season, with their only loss to Ashley Ridge. The play above was a huge play in last week's game. Colleton County had just taken the league minutes earlier on a blocked punt and TD run.

The winner of this game will gain some added momentum heading into the middle of the season, with this battle between previous region rivals.

Sol C. Johnson (GA) (0-2) @ Bluffton (1-2) : What has been a tough season for Bluffton got even tougher in the last couple of days, as South Carolina commit and five-star prospect, defensive end Shameik Blackshear, suffered a major knee injury in the game against Effingham County August 29. He is out for the year. A very tough loss for Bluffton, who has already lost a game on forfeit this year. They face Sol C. Johnson from Savannah, who haven't had a home game yet this year.

Orangeburg-Wilkinson (3-0) @ Colleton County (1-2): Colleton County has had two very tough losses to start the season, losing games by 1 and 3 points. O-W, on the other hand, have only given up six points in their first three ballgames, winning by 22-0 last week against Lower Richland. This week will be their toughest challenge so far, as the 3A squad moves up in competition to play a rising 4A squad. Colleton really needs a win in this ball game, as they host West Ashley next.

3A: Cane Bay (1-2) @ Berkeley (1-2): Cane Bay has been one of the surprises in the area, even starting 1-2. They gave Summerville a great game, losing by 2, and last week, only lost 40-24 to Fort Dorchester. Berkeley scored 28 points in the second half, but that was after the game was decided. They have to make that effort again this Friday night in order to get their second win of the season. A good Berkeley team can compete with anyone. Next week is an off week for Slicker. He will be at a game in the area.

Waccamaw (2-1) @ Georgetown (2-0): An improved Waccamaw side travels to Georgetown to face the undefeated Bulldogs. Even without QB Jarvis Brown, they beat Andrews last week 14-6 on their home field. This week could be a tougher game.

Whale Branch (0-2) @ Beaufort (0-2): Whale Branch has lost their past two games by 14 and 6 points, respectively. They travel to Beaufort in a required game for Beaufort County regulations. Beaufort is hoping to get their first win of the season in this one after back-to-back tough losses.

2A: Woodland (1-2) @ Bethune-Bowman (0-3): Woodland has started a surprising 1-2. They head to Bethune-Bowman, a school in Orangeburg County, to try and get back to an even record. They beat Lake Marion last week, 20-7.

Branchville (1-1) @ Academic Magnet (1-1): Academic Magnet gets back to Ravenel Stadium to host a Branchville team that just started football back up a few years ago. Nate Schlosser, a RB only standing 5'5, will hope to match his stats last week, when he was named the P&C offensive player of the week.

Hilton Head (2-1) @ Battery Creek (1-1): Battery Creek suffered many injuries during their game against Bluffton (which they won by forfeit), reportedly losing as many as 15 players due to injuries. They'll need a lot of players in their game against Hilton Head. One of the best WRs in the area, Aaron Frazier, is a major part of the Seahawks team, and WR Tyler Hamilton also adds a dimension to the Hilton Head passing game.

Porter-Gaud (2-1) @ Bishop England (0-2) (MyTV Charleston): A very interesting game from Daniel Island. The two most well-known private schools in the Charleston area meet up in one of the fiercest rivalries in the state. A few years ago, the rivalry was halted for four seasons after a group of BE students beat up a Porter-Gaud student. They started back in 2012, and the atmosphere is one of the best in the area when they play.

BE has had a very rough year so far, only scoring 14 points so far in a 55-14 rout by West Ashley. They were shut out last week by Hanahan. Porter-Gaud has shut out their last two opponents, PCA and Cardinal Newman. This game will be a test for both squads, as they will play to see who gets bragging rights until basketball season.

Andrews (1-2) @ Carvers Bay (0-2): Carvers Bay has had a tough time in their first two games; they host Andrews this week. Andrews has also lost two in a row.

Timberland (2-0) @ Crestwood (0-2): Timberland heads to Sumter this week to play Crestwood, who have lost their first two games to Sumter and Fairfield Central. Timberland shut out Cross last week, 42-0.

1A: Hunter-Kinard-Tyler (3-0) @ Baptist Hill (0-2): Baptist Hill had last week off. Hopefully the bye week has fixed some troubles for them, as they only scored six points in their first two games.

North Charleston (0-2) @ Burke (0-2) (6:30pm): Burke has played much better in their first two ball games, scoring 34 in their first game and losing 18-13 to Scott's Branch last week. North Charleston had a tough loss last week, but one of these teams will get their first win this week.

Cross (0-2) @ C.E. Murray (1-2): Cross begins an incredible five week stretch without a home game with a battle in Greeleyville against C.E. Murray. Their next home game is Oct. 17.

Creek Bridge (0-3) @ Lincoln (2-1): Lincoln actually has a winning record after 3 games. With a win this week, they could match their highest win total for a season since 2000.

Garrett (2-1) @ Military Magnet (1-1): A battle between two nearby North Charleston schools. The winner of this will have a winning record through 3 games.

St. John's (2-1) @ Lake View (1-1): St. John's and Brad Bowles makes the long trip to Lake View near the NC line to play the Wild Gators.

SCISA: Colleton Prep (1-1) @ Dorchester Academy (0-3): Colleton Prep and Dorchester Academy battle in a region game.
Hilton Head Prep (1-1) @ Bible Baptist (1-2): Hilton Head Prep lost last week; they head to Savannah to play Bible Baptist.
St. Andrew's (0-3) @ First Baptist (0-3): A team will get their first win in this one. First Baptist lost by 6 to Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach last week.
Hilton Head Christian (1-1) @ Northwood Academy (2-0): Northwood Academy opens up their new field at Cane Bay this week, hosting Hilton Head Christian. Northwood has looked impressive in their first two battles.
Palmetto Christian (0-2) @ Pinewood Prep (1-2): Since Pinewood's 46-0 shutout in their first game, they've only scored 7 points in their last two games. They host Palmetto Christian this week.

8-Man: Beaufort Academy (0-2) @ Patrick Henry (2-1): Patrick Henry has had a good start to the season, winning two of their first three games.
Cathedral Academy (1-1) @ St. John's Christian (1-1): An important game in Moncks Corner as Cathedral faces St. John's.
Charleston Collegiate (1-1) @ Richard Winn (3-0): Richard Winn has scored at least 52 points in all 3 games this season so far. Can the Sundevils slow them down?
Carolina Academy (1-1) @ Coastal Christian (0-3): Coastal Christian is forfeiting the game because they are down to 9 healthy players. They will go to 0-4, Carolina Academy 2-1.
Ridge Christian (1-2) @ Faith Christian (2-1): These schools are less than two miles apart off Royle Road in Summerville. Now, they will be playing football against each other. Is this the closest rivalry in the state?
James Island Christian (0-2) @ Andrew Jackson (1-2): James Island Christian makes the long trip over to Andrew Jackson to try and earn their first W of the year.

Enjoy the football!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 2 preview/wk 1 recap

High school football is a sport where anything can happen on any night. Huge momentum swings, injuries, bad halves, attrition and kids that are excited to play are all factors. This week in Lowcountry high school football was one which fit all of these.

Several surprising results occurred around the area. Summerville suffered several key injuries and survived Cane Bay 15-13. Wando forced SEVEN second-half turnovers in a rout of White Knoll; they trailed 13-0 at halftime and won 45-13. James Island was without QB Gage Moloney, but stayed in the game against Ashley Ridge until a crazy play at halftime which I will show on video. They lost 56-21. Goose Creek only scored seven points in a game and lost to Pickerington Central 14-7.

Last week's game of the week however was Stratford at Berkeley. The Knights won in Joe Marion's first game, 38-21. Stratford forced three turnovers, and all were turned into TDs. Stratford had over 400 yards of total offense, and controlled most of the game. If you want more info on this game, go to the Berkeley Independent link here. http://www.berkeleyind.com/article/20140830/BI01/140839989

Here was the play in the Ashley Ridge-James Island game which completely turned the game in Ashley Ridge's favor. It is too hard to describe in a sentence. The voiceover is from Channel 2's Brendan Clark. You have to watch it to believe it! Ashley Ridge, BTW, was last week's team of the week.


Now, onto this week's previews. All games Friday at 7:30 unless otherwise noted:

4A: Cane Bay (1-1) @ Fort Dorchester (2-0): Cane Bay has surprised in both of their games this year. They beat a favored Colleton County at home to open the year, and held Summerville to just fifteen points. Russell Zehr will have his folks ready to play. Fort Dorchester, however, is a very tough opponent. The monster DT/FB Eurndraus Bryant was P&C defensive player of the week last week in their game against Carolina Forest, collecting four sacks and two fumbles in a half of football.

This week, Fort Dorchester plays their first local opponent, but they get them in the friendly confines of Bagwell Stadium, where they rarely get beat except when Summerville or Goose Creek come to town. This will be a great battle.

Goose Creek (0-1) @ Ridge View (0-1): I am not used to writing a preview of a Goose Creek game with them having a 0 on the left column. This week, however, I am. They haven't lost two games in a row in several years. They lost on Saturday afternoon to Pickerington Central 14-7, after having lost a couple of their key players, who weren't playing on this day. Goose Creek though is still a very good team.

They travel to a game Ridge View side on Friday night: they lost by the odd score of 20-5 to Blythewood last Friday. Will Goose Creek and QB Dominique Jefferson bounce back this week before the battle versus Summerville next Friday?

Colleton County (1-1) @ James Island (1-1): Both schools have had fascinating seasons so far. Colleton County hosted Beaufort, now a 3A school, and won on their home field, while James Island won at Hanahan. Last week though, the Trojans were missing Moloney, which cost them in that loss to Ashley Ridge. On the other hand, Colleton County has some game players of their own, like WR Latrell Nieves, who has received offers from Marshall and Virginia, among others.

Colleton County and James Island have a history of playing great games. In their last meeting, back in 2009 (a game I worked stats for), James Island won in double overtime by a single point, beating the Cougars on a two-point conversion. In 2008, Colleton County beat James Island for one of its two home wins; they didn't win another home game until last year! This will be a great battle. The game is on WALI 93.7 FM if you can't make it to the stadium. They are back on air and carrying all Colleton County games, sounding good.

Sumter (1-1) @ Stratford (1-0): Sumter and Stratford always played during the Ray Stackley era, and they will continue in the Joe Marion era. Stratford won at Berkeley last week, and now open up at Ray Stackley Field. Sumter has already played two games, losing to York while beating Crestwood. Sumter is led by QB James Barnes, who was the Sumter Item offensive player of the week last week.

Sumter last year upset Summerville in the lower state finals, and Barnes is back with the Gamecocks this year. They also have one of the best punters in the nation in Trey Harvin. Sumter is a very good team coming in for a home opener, and this will be one of the best games in the state this week.

Wando (1-0) @ Ashley Ridge (2-0): Another very interesting game. This time, Ashley Ridge hosts Wando. With Steven Duncan, one of the best pocket passing QBs in the state, the Swampfoxes can outpass any team on their slate. Wando, on the other hand, is built on defense. They also bring back several good offensive players, like RB Kenny Waring and WR Terrell Venning.

Ashley Ridge has steadily improved under Coach Kenny Walker: this game will be a huge determinant in their season. After this game, they spend four of their next five weeks on the road, including three straight weeks. Wando has two road games following this one, at Lexington and Summerville. Will Wando be road Warriors or will the Swampfoxes hold court?

Hilton Head (2-0) @ West Ashley (1-0): Hilton Head beat two lower level opponents (Ridgeland/Hardeeville and Whale Branch), but will have a much tougher task traveling to West Ashley, led by QB Justin Berry, another fast riser. He moved this summer from the Chicago suburbs to Charleston, and as a 6'0, 175 junior dual threat, gives the Wildcats a legitimate passing QB, something they have never really had. RB Cameron Byas is another legitimate threat, running for 136 yards last week.

West Ashley was expected to handle Bishop England last Friday night, but blowing out the Bishops 55-14 was surprising. This week, they get QB Aidan Hegarty and Hilton Head, another recent newspaper player of the week (Island Packet). This will be a battle coming down to late in the game.

Beaufort (0-1) @ Bluffton (0-2): Last week was a bad week for Bluffton and Coach Ken Cribb. Not only did they lose to Effingham County last week 21-8, but they were forced to forfeit their 75-0 win over Battery Creek the Friday before because of an ineligible player. Bluffton will now face one of their regional rivals, Beaufort, who even though they dropped to 3A will still give almost any team a tough game.

If Bluffton loses this one, they could have a tough time earning a winning season, which would be a step back for them, used to dominating the lower levels before they moved to 4A a few years ago.

Berkeley (1-1) @ Summerville (2-0): Summerville had a tough time last week at Cane Bay. Not only did they barely squeak a win out over a game Cobra side, they had several key injuries. RB Chris Felder had an ankle injury, and may or may not play this week, while sophomore WR Cam Burnette is definitely out for this one. He has a high ankle sprain, and is out 2-4 weeks. QB Sawyer Bridges was also banged up.

Berkeley always gives Summerville a great game. This will be the case this time. If Berkeley can stop the banged-up Green Wave offense, the Stags have a chance at making this interesting. Players like QB Joseph Dress can keep Berkeley in the game.

3A: Andrews (1-1) @ Georgetown (1-0): Georgetown had the rare Week 1 off last week. They needed it, as QB Jarvis Brown was injured in the win over Conway. He may be out three weeks, or the entire season with an injured left knee. Andrews beat Waccamaw but lost to St. James last week.

Bishop England (0-1) @ Hanahan (0-2): Hanahan has lost two straight games for the first time in a while. They had trouble last Friday against rival Timberland, who they lost to 25-14 last week. Hanahan had to shore up their special teams, which was a big problem in the James Island game. They had kicking tryouts after that game. Bishop England on the other hand is replacing a lot of last year's players. They got blown out at home last week, 55-14, but as with any team, it's a process.

Hanahan really needs a win, otherwise the season could go spiraling, hosting Cane Bay before having to travel to Stratford the next two games.

Lower Richland (0-2) @ Orangeburg-Wilkinson (2-0): Good start for the Bruins, who have started undefeated with good wins over Edisto and Lake Marion. Lower Richland has lost back to back home games. O-W has only given up six points in the first two games.

North Charleston (0-1) @ Stall (0-1): Stall and North Charleston both hope to get their first victories of the season in this battle of North Charleston. Stall lost 34-8 to St. John's, while North Charleston lost 32-18 to Military Magnet last week.

2A: Woodland (0-2) @ Lake Marion (0-1): A surprising 0-2 start for Woodland, who has gotten outscored 63-28 in their first two ball games, and now have to travel to Santee to face Lake Marion.

Allendale-Fairfax (2-0) @ Garrett (2-0): An underrated good game in 2A. The two 2-0 teams will battle on Ayoub Field in North Charleston. Allendale-Fairfax is usually one of the best 2A squads in the state.

St. John's (1-1) @ Whale Branch (0-1): A good game in Beaufort County. Whale Branch has some good prospects, including DT Nyles Pinckney who just got offered by Miami on Wednesday.

Carvers Bay (0-1) @ Waccamaw (1-1): A battle between two good 2A teams, as Waccamaw last week defeated Hannah-Pamplico while Carvers Bay lost.

1A: Whitmire (1-0) @ Branchville (1-0): Whitmire makes the long trip from the Sumter National Forest to play Branchville, who beat North by 14 last week.

Scott's Branch (0-2) @ Burke (0-1): Scott's Branch is having a down year so far, only scoring six points in two games. Burke took last week off after a 50-34 loss to Garrett.

Timberland (1-0) @ Cross (0-1): One of the best games in Berkeley County this week. Cross lost to Hunter-Kinard-Tyler last week 34-22, while Art Craig and Timberland beat Hanahan. Cross is always a tough place to play, and with this rivalry game between St. Stephen and Cross, there will be a large crowd at this game.

Palmetto Christian (0-1) @ Lincoln (1-1): A rare private/public match-up, as Lincoln has gotten progressively better. Last week though they lost 57-20. Palmetto Christian lost 49-0 last week to Porter-Gaud in the first game with Coach Shimakonis.

Academic Magnet (0-1) @ Military Magnet (1-0): The "Battle of the Magnets", Academic and Military, will occur Friday night in North Charleston. Military Magnet, for what little money they have (Eagles on their uniforms), has a lot of heart. AM hasn't played since a loss to Lincoln on 8/24.

SCISA: Colleton Prep (1-0) @ Williamsburg Academy (1-0): Battle of two of the better Class AA Region II squads.
Dorchester Academy (0-2) @ Holly Hill Academy (1-0): HHA hosts a reeling Dorchester team; HHA beat First Baptist 59-18 last week.
Northwood Academy (1-0) @ Hilton Head Prep (1-0, 5pm): A battle of two of the better teams in SCISA statewide, Hilton Head gets to play in the heat of the day.
First Baptist (0-2) @ Christian Academy (MB) (0-1): One team will get off the snide here: Christian Academy was shut out 40-0 last week.
Bible Baptist (1-1) @ Hilton Head Christian (0-1): Bible lost 20-7 to Thomas Heyward last week, Hilton Head had the week off.
Laurence Manning (2-0) @ Pinewood Prep (1-1): Pinewood Prep has been rapidly improving. Last week though, they had a serious injury to one of their players against Northwood that stopped their game for 45 minutes. Laurence Manning has given up only twelve points in two games.
Cardinal Newman (0-2) @ Porter-Gaud (1-1): After the Cyclones fell at home in their opener to Estill, they bounced back in a big way last week. 49-0. This week they start region play with Columbia's Cardinal Newman.
8-Man: Faith Christian (1-1) @ Beaufort Academy (0-1): Faith Christian may be the highest scoring team in the area. They beat Jefferson Davis 52-46 last week, and followed that with a 70-68 loss to Laurens Academy. Alex North ran for nearly 200 yards and four TDs in the loss. Gotta love 8-Man.
Coastal Christian (0-2) @ Cathedral Academy (0-1): Another game where the winner will get it s first win. Coastal lost last week 40-12 to Charleston Collegiate;
and Wardlaw (1-0) @ Charleston Collegiate (1-0): This game will be one where QB Manny Smalls will lead the Sun Devils against a team from the Midlands.
Patrick Henry (1-1) @ James Island Christian (0-1): James Island Christian opens up the home season; this time, they will play at Fort Johnson Middle School's field.
W.W. King (1-1) @ Ridge Christian (1-1, 6pm): Ridge Christian opens up their home field on their campus with a game against W.W. King at 6pm. They beat Beaufort Academy last week.
Greenwood Christian (1-0) @ St. John's Christian (1-0): A rare game between SCISA schools in the Upstate and Lowcountry with Greenwood Christian battling Moncks Corner's private school.

And there you have it.
Enjoy the games!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week 1 preview/wk 0 recap

High school football is one of the purest forms of sport. The cheerleaders, the fans who have been going to games for decades, the bands, and most of all, the players giving their all to their school and their community, sometimes playing both ways. Anything can happen on any given Friday.

This Friday was no exception. Not every team played in the Lowcountry, but a good portion of the schools started. There were some fascinating games involving local teams; most of them lived up to the billing. Sertoma also had its share of surprise, including Wando putting five touchdowns in a half on Bishop England.

Prayers to former Wando student Virginia Gilliam, who died in a Clemson area hospital on Sunday. She was a freshman at Clemson who was in her first weekend at the school. 

Last week's game of the week: James Island at Hanahan. This game was seen as a mismatch on paper. You had the two time defending region champions, Hanahan, who had gone undefeated in the regular season last year, hosting James Island, a school who was in its first game with its new coach, Ike Allred.

It was very emotional for the Trojans, who on their helmets this year will be wearing #41, for two former players who died over the summer. Tristen Allen, a star LB for the team, who died in a diving accident (http://carolinasportsthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/prayers-for-tristen-allen.html), and Matthew Gaither, who died in a plane crash.

The game did not start off as expected. Within the first 5 minutes, James Island got out to a quick 14-0 lead. An 80 yard drive leading to a Gage Moloney to Chad Hardin TD pass followed by a three-and-out and a botched Hanahan punt led to a Buss Hamilton TD, stunning the Hawk crowd. The Trojans got out to a 26-13 lead before Hanahan came back with a late 1st half TD to cut the deficit to 26-21.

Hanahan RB Vontre Howard ran for a TD to give the Hawks a 1 point lead at 27-26, before the defenses took over the rest of the game until Reggie Rosario's 34-yard FG just sneaked over the uprights with 6:46 left. Moloney, who threw for 232 yards, was knocked out with a foot injury, and was replaced with Hamilton at QB for most of the 4th quarter. Still, the Trojans pulled the game out in one of the biggest upsets of Week 0.

Team of the week: Cane Bay. When you break a 12-game losing streak (not winning since before Obama was reelected), and beat a fellow 4A school in Colleton County at home, you deserve the praise. Summerville and Fort Dorchester also deserve high praise for going on the road and beating great teams in Providence and South Florence.

Onto the preview of week 1. Almost every team in the area plays this week, and we will go into full force with TV stations doing game of the weeks and a full slate of games.

4A: Summerville (1-0) @ Cane Bay (1-0): Summerville rarely plays out of area teams in their schedule each year. The last time the Green Wave played one was when A.J. Green was on the team. However, this year's team accepted the challenge of traveling to a new area very nicely. Winning 31-9 against a very good Providence team was very important for Lowcountry football, as they dominated most of the game against competition who got more and more tired as the evening went on.

This week, the Green Wave travel to Cane Bay; two seasons ago they were robbed on a late game call giving the Cobras a huge upset win at home which people still talk about. Summerville this year has several great skill players like RB Chris Felder and WR Cam Burnette in addition to QB Sawyer Bridges. Cane Bay beat Colleton County by a point last week, and hope to spring another huge upset. They returned two interceptions for touchdowns last week against the Cougars; it may be tougher to do against the Summerville offense.

Goose Creek vs. Pickerington Central (4pm Saturday, Centerville, OH): Goose Creek, missing QB Pedro Manigault, still looks like a very stout team. QB Dominique Jefferson, now a junior, will lead the offense against the school from the Columbus area. They blew out West Ashley in Sertoma, showing very little to contest that they are one of the best teams in the area.

They will face Pickerington Central, one of the best teams in the Columbus area. Last year they finished 8-3 in a very tough region in OH, winning their eighth consecutive region title, losing to Cincinnati school Colerain in the playoffs. They have a hundred guys on their roster; and are led by DT DaVon Hamilton, a Pittsburgh commit. QB Matt Martello, a new starter, is getting looked at by several MAC schools. It will be a very interesting game to match up the two states, who rarely play each other.

Ashley Ridge (1-0) @ James Island (1-0): The Ike Allred era opened with a bang last week at Hanahan. Few expected the Trojans to compete, let alone win the game in front of a large, partisan Hawk crowd. They had scored just 18 points in the previous 2 games against Hanahan, with many of the same players. They had 21 with 2:30 in the first quarter, and won 29-27. Hanahan though had a starting QB in his first game at the controls.

Ashley Ridge has Steven Duncan, who was a Porter-Gaud transfer and threw for over 3,000 yards last season. They beat Woodland last week, in a game that many expected them to give a good fight; they won 21-6. James Island's QB, Gage Moloney, hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter last week, and was out for the rest of that game. He may be out for this one. They do however have RB Buss Hamilton, who led the Trojans offense in the 4th quarter and earned a couple key first downs. This will be a great battle between two up-and-comers.

Wando @ White Knoll (0-1): Wando coach Jimmy Noonan likes to play Midlands area teams; he was a coach at Wilson Hall and other Columbia schools. White Knoll lost 49-21 last week to Fort Mill at River Bluff High School; they played just six days ago and now make a trip to the Lowcountry. They are led by junior QB Calev Grubbs and RB E'Mond Brown.

Wando has been a sleeping giant in the area; everyone always wonders if this year will be their year. Sertoma definitely showed many people that they could be a team to be reckoned with. Winning 35-0 in a half of football is a huge statement against anyone, but especially against a rival like Bishop England. QB Bailey Hart returns, along with RB Kenny Waring and a number of other prospects, including the son of Zola Davis (the former South Carolina WR). This will be a fun game to watch.

Bluffton (1-0) @ Effingham County (1-0): Bluffton put three-quarters of a hundred on Battery Creek last week (winning 75-0), but now they make the short trip over to Springfield, GA to face an Effingham County team who went into Liberty County last week and blew them out 35-7. Junior QB P.J. Brown threw 3 TDs in the win, and Effingham had their biggest margin of victory since 2006. The Rebels will give Bluffton a game.

Beaufort @ Colleton County (0-1) (MyTV Charleston): Colleton County had a very tough loss last week in their game at Cane Bay. They made several mistakes, including missing the extra point on what was the tying TD. They got the ball back on a onside kick but couldn't get the points needed to beat the Cobras on their home field. They host Beaufort, a team that has dropped down from 4A to 3A this year as the numbers have declined. Some reports say Beaufort has less than 40 players available.

Colleton County really needs a win in order to get back to their winning ways, since they only have five home games with just one in the region. Every game is very important for playoff positioning. With prospects like WR Latrell Nieves and others, the Cougars will have a chance in almost every game they play. They need to prove that this Friday, as the fans will be amped for a televised game (last year, their win vs. Wando on WMMP ended a 36 game losing streak).

Carolina Forest (0-1) at Fort Dorchester (1-0): Fort Dorchester looked really good last week. Over 400 yards on the ground and winning by 24 on South Florence's home field made a statement to the entire Lower State; that the Patriots are out for something this year. They have a lot of prospects like they usually do, and led by senior QB Kobe Garrett, the Patriots can compete with almost any school in the state. Carolina Forest, on the other hand, just hired a new coach, Marc Morris, and lost by 20 at home to Darlington last week. Unless they can recover from that loss, expect a rout.

3A: Stratford @ Berkeley (1-0): Whenever Stratford and Berkeley, long-lived rivals dating back to the 1980s, you can expect a great ball game. It will be hard to go to a Knight game and not see Ray Stackley on the sidelines. He has retired this year, and is replaced by former assistant (and baseball umpire) Joe Marion. He will keep most of the principles which have been a part of Stratford over the years. They are led by senior QB Jameson Mobbs, who hopes to replace Georgia commit and four-year starter Jacob Park.

Berkeley had a fight with 2A Johnsonville last week, trailing 14-0 in the first quarter, but they came back to beat Johnsonville. Berkeley is led by QB Joseph Dress, as coach Jeff Cruce hopes that this year will be the year in Moncks Corner that the Stags return to prominence in state football. With a new guy in charge at Stratford for the first time since the school began, it will be very interesting to see Coach Marion at work.

Whale Branch at Hilton Head (1-0): Hilton Head plays one of their required Beaufort County opponents; they beat Ridgeland/Hardeeville 31-0 last week. They're hoping to get off to a fast start; after this game, they don't host another game on the island until October 10.

Lake Marion @ Orangeburg-Wilkinson (1-0): O-W traveled to Edisto last week and blew out Lake Marion, 32-0; O-W has their home opener this week as they host the Gators. This starts a stretch of five home games out of six for the Bruins.

2A: Batesburg-Leesville (1-0) @ Woodland (0-1): Batesburg-Leesville, one of the best 2A schools in the state, hired a new coach this year; Perry Woolbright from North Myrtle Beach. He replaced former Berkeley coach Dr. Jerry Brown. Woodland hopes to bounce back from a loss in their home opener to Ashley Ridge; Batesburg-Leesville will be a tough opponent, even at home.

Estill (1-0) @ Battery Creek (0-1): Estill beat Porter-Gaud last week at Porter-Gaud, while Battery Creek starts the first of three straight home games.

West Ashley @ Bishop England: A very interesting game on Daniel Island Friday night. West Ashley has become a school with a growing football reputation, playing much better in the last couple of years. Bishop England on the other hand is replacing a lot of their seniors, including Nick Shiver, and have a lot of inexperienced players. It showed in Sertoma last week as they lost 35-0 in a half to Wando.

However, coach John Cantey will have his players ready to play in the first game of the season. With a raucous home crowd, hosting a 4A school, expect the Bishops to show much better than they did last Friday.

Baptist Hill (0-1) @ Garrett (1-0): Garrett won their first battle against Burke, 50-34, and now host Baptist Hill, who were shut out by Allendale-Fairfax. The new Garrett coach, Nick Hopp, will have have his guys ready to play again as the Falcons open up the home slate with a in-county opponent.

Military Magnet @ North Charleston- Military Magnet and North Charleston, in a all-North Charleston battle, will play Friday night. It will be a 2A vs. 1A battle.

Andrews (1-0) @ St. James (0-1): Andrews travels to St. James this week, as they beat Waccamaw last week 19-7.

Hanahan (0-1) @ Timberland: One of the best games of the weekend. It will be very interesting to see how Hanahan bounces back after the surprise loss to James Island. Some people perhaps were overlooking the James Island game and getting ready for this one. It didn't work out. Hanahan and Timberland have been rivals for most of the last couple of decades, especially as Art Craig and Charlie Patterson became coaches of Timberland and Hanahan, respectively; they are usually the cream of the crop in their regions.

Expect this to be a fun game from St. Stephen.

Waccamaw (0-1) @ Hannah-Pamplico (1-0): Waccamaw and Hannah-Pamplico will battle; Hannah-Pamplico is coming off a 50-18 win over Green Sea-Floyds.

1A: North @ Branchville: Branchville hosts North Friday night in a battle between 2 1A schools in Orangeburg and Calhoun County.

Hunter-Kinard-Tyler (1-0) @ Cross: Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, led by QB Khaliq Anthony, defeated Denmark-Olar 52-6 last week and now travels to Cross to face the Trojans in their opener. It will be a battle between these two sides.

Lincoln (1-0) @ C.E. Murray (0-1): C.E. Murray is coming off a 34-18 loss to Kingstree, while Lincoln has a rare winning record after a win over Academic Magnet last week.

Stall @ St. John's (0-1): Stall opens up the season at St. John's, who got shut out at Screven County last week. Stall starts the Joe Bessinger era on Friday night.

SCISA: Pee Dee Academy @ Colleton Prep- New CP coach Thad Wells is a spread guy. No more wishbone.
Dorchester Academy (0-1) @ Calhoun Academy- Dorchester Academy was shut out last week by Robert E. Lee.
Bethesda Day (GA) @ Hilton Head Prep (5:00PM)- Hilton Head Prep starts with back to back home games.
Holly Hill Academy @ First Baptist (0-1)- First Baptist was blown out last Tuesday at Pinewood Prep, but bounced back nicely in Sertoma to upset Burke.
Northwood Academy @ Pinewood Prep (1-0)- Northwood Academy starts up with back to back road battles before they open up their new stadium September 12. Pinewood Prep looked mighty impressive in last week's 46-0 win.
Palmetto Christian @ Porter-Gaud (0-1)- Porter-Gaud and Palmetto will play at PG back to back years, but Palmetto has to replace QB J.T. Waters and their coach, Jim Daniel. Porter-Gaud last week succumbed to Estill at home.
Beaufort Academy @ W.W. King- The only non-region game on Beaufort's slate.
Richard Winn @ Cathedral Academy- The North Charleston private school opens up hosting Richard Winn from Winnsboro.
Coastal Christian (0-1) @ Charleston Collegiate- The Sun Devils open up with back-to-back home games, while Coastal Christian had a blowout loss last week in Laurens at Laurens Academy that they hope to bounce back from.
Laurens Academy (1-0) @ Faith Christan- Laurens Academy makes the long trip down 26 to play at Faith Christian on Royle Road.
James Island Christian @ St. John's Christan- One of the best SCISA games in the state this week. These are two of the best 8-man teams in the area battling each other.
Patrick Henry (1-0) @ Clarendon Hall- Patrick Henry makes the trip from Estill to play Clarendon Hall. PH beat W.W. King last week.
Ridge Christian @ Jefferson Davis- Ridge Christian starts out with four of five on the road. Tough sledding for them.

Enjoy the football!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week Zero preview

Hard to believe, but the season is here. High school football is upon us. If you didn't read these articles last year, my name is Joe Wright. This is my second year doing these high school football previews.

I have been an avid football fan my entire life. I am a James Island alum. I helped to do stats for the football team for three seasons. I have been to almost every 4A school in the area, and another of my distinctions is that I saw both Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel play. I saw Manziel play at The Citadel in an all-star game, and Clowney during his junior season at South Pointe when he tore apart James Island in the playoffs.

Now onto the preview.

The off-season has been filled with many interesting stories. Eleven new coaches are a part of the Lowcountry. Stratford, James Island, Stall, and Garrett are just some of the schools who have hired new coaches during the off-season.

Here is the full list:

Stratford Joe Marion
James Island Ike Allred
Stall Joe Bessinger
Garrett Nick Hopp
Lincoln James Graham
First Baptist Johnny Waters
Palmetto Christian Chris Shimakonis
Dorchester Academy Chris Meyers
Colleton Prep Thad Wells
St. John's Christian John McCall
Faith Christian Dale Feagin

With only so many weeks during the season, there is a premium for teams to play games during Week Zero. The custom used to be for schools to play Sertoma during this week, then start regular season play the next week. That is not the case anymore. With South Carolina 4A schools playing the longest regular season schedule of anyone in the nation for high school football (11 games), there is a need for an open week.

Seven of the eleven 4A schools in the Lowcountry are playing this week on Friday night. Smaller schools also have used the week. This preview will only include regular season games played on Week Zero. For a Sertoma preview, go here: http://carolinasportsthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/2014-sertoma-preview.html

A good portion of the schools in the area will start this week. I will start with the smaller schools, then do a full preview of the larger school's games before I get into what I usually do next week.

All games will start at 7:30pm unless noted.

SCISA- First Baptist @ Pinewood Prep (Tuesday)- Pinewood Prep on Tuesday night, in front of Bill Murray, blew out First Baptist, 46-0. Pinewood had a 19-game losing streak prior to this blow-out, playing First Baptist, who moved to 11-man this year.

Several players excelled for Pinewood, including senior QB Lewis Vaughan, who passed for 153 yards and a TD. The TD was 96 yards to Tatum Rowland. Leslie Redden had 12 carries, 135 yards rushing for two TDs. DB/K Ryan Huiet picked off three passes and kicked four extra points.

Robert E. Lee @ Dorchester Academy- Debut of Chris Meyers as head coach in St. George. They will be hoping to improve on last year's tie for the region title.

Hilton Head Christian @ Trinity-Byrnes- Hilton Head Christian will make the long trip to the Pee Dee to face the Collegiate School in Darlington.

Estill @ Porter-Gaud- In a late scheduled game, Porter-Gaud will play a rare non private public school, with Estill coming to town on Friday night. 

Coastal Christian @ Laurens Academy- The boys from Mt. Pleasant will make a trip to Laurens to face Laurens Academy.

Patrick Henry @ W.W. King- Patrick Henry starts their season with a game at W.W. King, one of their two non-region games.

1A- Baptist Hill @ Allendale-Fairfax- For Baptist Hill, this week is amazingly one of just two trips outside of Charleston County all season. The other is Cross on Oct. 10. Being in a new region with other Charleston County schools will boost attendance for this school.

Burke @ Garrett (Saturday)- In the traditional Saturday night game on the first week of the season, Burke and Garrett will battle for supremacy. Burke has moved down to 1A this year, and hopes to have more success in their new class. Garrett's new coach, Nick Hopp, will start in this one. Last year, Garrett made it to the second round of playoffs before succumbing to Bamberg-Ehrhardt.

Academic Magnet @ Lincoln (Saturday)- James Graham will start his Lincoln career Saturday night in McClellanville. Academic Magnet and Coach Walpole hope to improve on a 3-7 mark last year, as the Raptors missed the playoffs in a rebuilding year.

St. John's @ Screven County (GA) (Saturday)- St. John's will make a long trip to Sylvania, Georgia, but it is really not as long as you think. Coach Brad Bowles has made St. John's look more like a big time school with his experience at Goose Creek, including names on the uniforms. Screven County plays in Class 2A in Georgia, and finished 5-6 last year.

2A- Andrews @ Waccamaw- The two Georgetown County schools will do battle Friday night as each hopes to improve from a year ago. Andrews and Waccamaw both made the second round of playoffs last year before losing to Bishop England and Lake Marion respectively.

3A- Georgetown @ Conway- Georgetown, with a lot of underclassmen this season, will hope to improve on last year's 5-5 record, missing the playoffs. They start off by playing one of the Grand Strand's two 4A schools, Conway.

Johnsonville @ Berkeley (WTUA 106.1 FM)- Berkeley hosts an opponent from the Pee Dee in their first regular season game. Jeff Cruce is feeling the heat again this year as Stag fans expect a lot of their football team. Last year, the Stags finished 5-6, getting blown out in the first round of the playoffs by Myrtle Beach.

Lewis Lineburger of Johnsonville is one of the most experienced coaches in the state; he is now in the South Carolina Coaches Hall of Fame. Last year, they finished 8-3. Johnsonville moves up to 2A while Berkeley stays in 3A. Berkeley is led by QB Joseph Dress, while Johnsonville has a 6-6, 345 pound lineman in Shaq Crouch who has been offered by East Carolina and looked at by Clemson and South Carolina.

James Island @ Hanahan (extended preview as one of Games of Week)

Ridgeland-Hardeeville @ Hilton Head- Hilton Head starts the season playing close-by Ridgeland-Hardeeville, who has been a fixture in Bishop England's 2A region. Hilton Head has a smaller roster this year, and starts off with two home games before a brutal four-week road stretch.

Orangeburg-Wilkinson @ Edisto- O-W travels to Cordova to play Edisto. O-W made the playoffs last year, but lost in the first round. They went a perfect 5-0 on the road last season.

4A- Colleton County @ Cane Bay- This game will be a very interesting one between two up-and-coming coaches, Russell Zehr and Chris Collins. Colleton County broke their long losing streak last year, and looked much more competitive in 2013 than in previous years. They have a chance to make some noise with their early schedule.

Cane Bay on the other hand finished 0-11 last year, and are on a twelve game losing streak, not having won since November 2, 2012 at West Ashley. They are hoping to improve this season, as they still have some good players, such as LB Matt Rudy. The winner of this will get some momentum in the early season.

Woodland @ Ashley Ridge- This is a very sneaky game for Ashley Ridge. Woodland may even be a favorite in this one, as they have one of the best players in the state, regardless of classification. DE Michael Barnett is a Florida State commit, and plays both sides of the ball for Woodland. His defensive prowess is what has made him a major prospect.

QB Steven Duncan, on the other hand, for Ashley Ridge, transferred in from Porter-Gaud, where he was the starting QB last year, throwing thirty touchdowns and passing for more than three thousand yards. He is only a junior, meaning he has more time to improve for Ashley Ridge, who needs it as they play in tough Region 8-4A.

Battery Creek @ Bluffton- Bluffton plays one of their required games against Beaufort County competition as they face a improving Battery Creek side. Bluffton had their toughest season last year, finishing 6-5 and missing the playoffs. They hope to improve on that record this season.

Fort Dorchester @ South Florence- You never know what to expect from Fort Dorchester. The Patriots will open up at South Florence, who finished 12-1 last year before losing to Jacob Park and Stratford. South Florence is one of the top teams in the state this season, starting at #5 in the 4A rankings. Fort Dorchester has DT Eurndaurus Bryant, who at 335 pounds not only plays defensive tackle, but also a little bit of fullback in short-yardage situations. He is getting looks from many major schools.

The Patriots also have freshman QB Dakereon Joyner, someone who we will be talking about for the next several years. He has already gotten an offer from South Carolina before playing a high school down. They hope to improve on a first-round playoff exit last year to Dutch Fork.

Games of the Week

James Island @ Hanahan (MyTV Charleston)- James Island and Hanahan were region rivals for the past two seasons. Hanahan beat JI in both football games, as they controlled the region the last two seasons. Hanahan will replace QB Mason Schwerzler, but they still have several players who are some of the best in their region. Junior DT Dominique Green, sophomore WR Sam Denmark, and senior DB DeAndrea Thompson all return for the Hawks, who finished 11-1 last year but lost to Marlboro County in the playoffs.

The Trojans, on the other hand, hired a new coach in the off-season, from Chesterfield. His name is Ike Allred. He is from Newberry College, and has helped to change the culture on the island. Allred hired an almost entirely new coaching staff. Expect the Trojans to play more of a no-huddle style this year. The Trojans finished 2-8 last season, and are the only school to move up from 3A to the largest level, 4A in the area. They still have several pieces from last year, including WR Tre'Von Grant.

With the contrast in passing styles (Hanahan mostly pro-style, James Island a question mark), this will be an interesting game to watch.

Summerville @ Providence (NC) (7:00pm, 98.9 FM)- Usually, this game between two top powers in the Carolinas would be the game of the week in the Carolinas. This week though, with Byrnes and Northwestern playing at District Three Stadium in Rock Hill, it isn't even the best game in the Charlotte area.

John McKissick needs no introduction if you follow SC high school football. He has been the coach at Summerville longer than most of us have been alive. He has won 613 games in his career, leading the nation in wins for football coaches. He has been head football coach at Summerville since 1952.

McKissick may have one of his best teams in years this year. Last year, they unexpectedly made it to the state semi-finals, and had a two TD lead in the fourth quarter against Sumter before the Gamecocks came back; a 95-yard TD drive beat them by one point.

QB Sawyer Bridges is a year older (a Clemson baseball commit), and he has several great players around him. Zack Bailey, a lineman who moved from the state of Washington, is a South Carolina commit; and one of the best players in the area. Mac McCurry and Kewaun Cox lead one of the best defenses in the area.

Providence High, on the other hand, had their most wins since 2006 last season, at 8-5. Providence is being talked about as one of the best teams in the Charlotte area this season, and are led by QB Caleb York. Providence looks to run a very high-tempo game, as their coach, Justin Hardin, focuses on playing tough competition. This game will be a great one.

Enjoy the football!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Notre Dame expelling four players for cheating scandal?

Major news coming out of Notre Dame. Four Notre Dame football players are possibly being expelled due to a cheating scandal. Reddit has a thread about this: http://www.reddit.com/r/CFB/comments/2dn4r2/nd_fans_in_a_panic/

The rumors are that these four players are involved:
  • #1 CB KeiVarae Russell
  • #1 WR DaVaris Daniels
  • #1 DE Ishaq Williams
  • Reserve LB Kendall Moore
Those players were some of the most important on Notre Dame's 2013 team. I am also hearing that Notre Dame's 12 wins from 2012 may be vacated.

From @Sankey72 on Reddit: Rumor coming out now, that it has something to do with Academic Advisers doing some shady crap. Rumors to go along with this are expulsions for these players not just suspensions as well as vacated wins. This allegedly is from 2012 and not from this summer.

: Yahoo sources: investigation into academic fraud at Notre Dame; football players (and regular students) part of probe

From Dan Murphy, Blue and Gold Insider:

A foursome of Notre Dame veterans was not seen leaving the Irish practice field Friday afternoon. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell, defensive end Ishaq Williams, linebacker Kendall Moore and wide receiver DaVaris Daniels were not among the players who exited the LaBar Practice Field Friday.
Notre Dame did not respond to questions about their absence. The Irish are planning to host a practice open to faculty and media Saturday morning.