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!