Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The top Lowcountry games of Week 1

Week 0 of high school football in the Lowcountry was a week where not many teams played regular season games. Most schools in the area except for a few Charleston and Berkeley teams took the week off and played in the Sertoma Football Classic, which drew very well (11,000 on Friday night even with a rain delay).

The best games of the week, meanwhile, were played in the regular season. My top two games of the week, Wando at James Island and Timberland at Manning, both came down to the last couple of minutes and were decided by one point each.

The Trojans came back from a 17-0 deficit against their bitter rival but lost 20-19 on a missed 2-pt conversion. James Island has always played the Warriors tough, even though this year Wando is two and a half times larger than James Island.

Timberland won by one point, 23-22 as they intercepted a pass with a few seconds left to win the football game.

This week, just about everyone plays their first or second game of the season. It is a full slate, with some very good games. I will count down from 5 to 1. All games are Friday night at 7:30pm.

5) Hanahan at Timberland: Timberland looks to defend their state title again, this time inside Berkeley County on their home field in St. Stephen against a proven foe, Hanahan. Hanahan beat up Military Magnet in their first game last Friday night, and they look to put out a big statement in this game.

4) Summerville at Cane Bay: Friday night will be a very historic night for the Cane Bay Cobras. They will begin their first season as a 4A opponent, playing in a region with Wando, West Ashley, Goose Creek and Stratford. They will face a tough Summerville team in the opener. This should be a boon for the concession and ticket takers at Cane Bay, probably giving them their biggest crowd ever

This will be a good game too. Coach John McKissick needs six wins to earn 600 for his career, but he will have to earn it this year with an unproven QB, a 9th grader, and a young team overall. Cane Bay has not lost a home game since October of 2010, but they will be up for a tougher task with 4A teams.

3) Stratford at Berkeley: When these two neighborhood rivals get together, it is always a fun one. Coaches Jeff Cruce and Ray Stackley have had a rivalry going back decades, and even though the two schools are no longer in the same division, it continues just as heated as it was. Stratford has a lot of new players this year, but under center they have one of the best QBs in the state, Jacob Park.

He has matured tremendously since starting as a freshman in 2010. Berkeley had a under achieving 4-7 season last year, but they are improving this year, with most of their young core coming back for another season under the blue and gold. This will be an exciting one.

2) Beaufort at Wando: You may be surprised to see this on this list, but both schools have a lot to prove. Beaufort had a rare miss of the playoffs last year. Wando has been steadily improving each season under coach Jimmy Noonan. Wando's first game against James Island, as said earlier, was a great one. Beaufort has a new region rival, Bluffton, and coach Mark Clifford is one of the most under-appreciated coaches in the Lowcountry.

This game will be very tightly contested. Wando's hungry student section, one of the largest in the state, should give the Warriors a slight edge, but don't be surprised if the game goes either way.

Really, any of these games could be in the 2nd spot. But the top game this week is a no-brainer.

1) Ashley Ridge at Goose Creek: This game is not only the top game of the week here, but probably one of the top games in the state and maybe the region. MyTV Charleston will broadcast the game live, and all 3 TV channels will focus on this game.

This game has a lot of story lines. Goose Creek and Ashley Ridge both won their regions last year, and Goose Creek won their elusive state championship. Goose Creek this year is led by WR Tramel Terry, a Georgia commit, but QB Dantez Bennamon is a very good leader of this offense, which runs the ball almost all the time.

Gator games go quicker than most, but Ashley Ridge looks to counter that with their passing attack. Coach Kenny Walker has brought up his team to one of the best in the state in a very short amount of time. They have a passing offense, and even though they lost their top WR from last year, they look to reload quickly.

This might be a close one for Goose Creek, but they look to be dominant, showing that they are the cream of the Lowcountry crop in 2012.

All these games are good ones. There are many others on Friday night. Consult your newspaper, local TV station website or another source for a list. High school football is a great value, and these games often are some of the best entertainment you can see. Come out to your local game.

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