CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - High school football practices begin the final week of July and throughout the week, Live 5 News will give a preview of the Lowcountry’s teams. Beginning on Monday with SCISA leading through 5-A on Friday.
Ashley Ridge Swamp Foxes
Head Coach: Kenny Walker (10th season)
Last Season: 5-6
Top Returners: Matthew Duncan (QB, Sr.), Cameron Cuttino (RB, Sr.), Kamryn Petrick (OL, Sr.), Ra’shard Brown (WR, Jr.), Troy Grant (RB, Jr.), Anthony Jackson (DT, Sr.), Owen Ratliff (TE, Jr.) Jarren Strickland (CB, Jr.)
Top Newcomers: Hampton Smith (OL, Jr.), Jaron Centers (OL, Sr.), Lucas Richardson (OL, Sr.), Kade Ratliff (OL, Sr.)
Kenny Walker enters his 10th season at Ashley Ridge with maybe the most experienced quarterback in the Lowcountry as Matthew Duncan enters his senior season. Duncan has been asked to do a lot in his time as a starter but Walker says they’d like to get him more involved in the run game this season. The coach also says the team chemistry he’s seen this offseason is among the best it has ever been.
Head Coach: Randy Robinson (4th season)
Last Season: 11-2
Top Returners : Solomon Butler (WR, Jr.), Hakeem Meggett (WR, Sr.), Jake Dunn (LB, Sr.), Hunter Powers (OL, Sr.)
A lot of holes to fill for Randy Robinson’s team this year, most notably receiver DJ Chisolm. But the Stags do have a solid duo in the returning Solomon Butler and Hakeem Meggett that should help. Jake Dunn will help anchor the defense from the linebacker spot.
Cane Bay Cobras
Head Coach: Russell Zehr (9th season)
Last Season: 5-6
Top Returners: Cameron Curry (C, Sr.), Lateef Sharpe (DL, Sr.), Jurrien Mitchell (DB, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: Leon Staley (FB, Jr.), Deondre Smith (DL, Jr.), Xavier Mitchell-Brown (QB, So.)
The Cobras enter 2019 looking for a bounce back season after finishing under .500 and with a first round playoff loss last year. Russell Zehr has 3 players competing for the starting quarterback spot including sophomore Xavier Mitchell-Brown. The coach says it’s good to have the competition and have the 3 pushing each other and whichever 2 don’t start are good enough athletes to be put on the field. But he says installing a complicated system will be key with a young squad.
Ft. Dorchester Patriots
Head Coach: Steve LaPrad (17th season)
Last Season: 9-3
Top Returners: DeAndre Sabb (QB, Sr.), Kalil Jenkins (RB, Sr.), Antoine Parker (WR, Sr.), Qway’Jon Simmons (WR, Sr.), Darryle Ware (LB, Sr.), Khalid Gadson (DB, Jr.), Emmanuel Johnson (DL, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: Zolten Osborne (QB, Fr.), Jalen Levine (CB, Jr.), Jalen Best (WR, Jr.)
After 4 straight seasons of double digit wins, only getting 9 last year was probably a big disappointment for the Patriots. Steve LaPrad says that has made his team hungrier going into this season. There’s still a lot of expectations for them this year which is fine with the coach who says the secret is for this talented group to learn to play together. While they have DeAndre Sabb back to play quarterback, expect freshman Zolten Osborne, who LaPrad said could be pretty special, to see some time as well.
Goose Creek Gators
Head Coach: Jason Winstead (2nd season)
Last Season: 3-6
Top Returners: Emmanuel Mukuamu (QB, Sr.), Melvin Ravenel (DB, Sr.), Nyheim Simmons (LB, Jr.), Damon Mouzon (WR, Sr.), Deangelo Bright (OL/DL, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: Jayden Johnson (OL, So.), Andrew Allen (LB, Jr.), Malachi Taylor (WR, Jr.)
The Gators enter year 2 with Jason Winstead who says he’s a lot more comfortable this season. After changing the offensive last season, he’s expecting more out of senior quarterback Emmanuel Mukuamu this season. But it’s not all on his QB’s shoulders. Winstead says the receivers, especially Damon Mouzon and Malachi Taylor.
James Island Trojans
Head Coach: Ike Allred (6th season)
Last season: 3-7
Top Returners: Ron German (RB, Sr.), Jaden Scott (WR, Jr), Quavon Frasier (LB, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: Gunnar Nistad (QB, Sr.)
Ike Allred added former Porter-Gaud head coach Rick Reetz as his offensive coordinator this season hoping he could bring some of the big passing numbers he’s had with the Cyclones the last several years. Also coming from Porter-Gaud is their quarterback, Gunnar Nistad, who should get a chance to throw the ball around the field regularly.
Head Coach: Joe Bessinger (6th season)
Last Season: 0-9
Top Returners: Khalil Mack-Gooch (LB, Sr.), James Levine (WR, So.), Monte Lewis (WR, Sr.), Victor Sanchez (OL, Sr.), Iyon James (OL, Sr.), Lamontae Heatley (DE, Sr.), Rafael Smith (DB, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: Damon Loveless (OL, Sr.), Tyriq Green (LB, Sr.), Jaden Roper (DE, Fr.)
Despite coming off a winless season in 2018, there’s a lot of optimism for Joe Bessinger’s team this season. He returns a solid nucleus of kids led by linebacker Khalil Mack-Gooch on defense and an experienced offensive line. Bessinger says the kids have shown a lot of fight in the offseason and are hungry to end their current losing streak.
Head Coach: Dennie McDaniel (2nd season)
Last Season: 4-8
Top Returners: Demarius Anderson (WR/LB, Jr.), Thomas Blackmon (C, Jr.), Tamir Simons (DB, Sr.), Nick Barkley (DL, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: David Washington (WR, Jr.), Jaedon Alston (RB, Fr.), Mason Lord (LB, Jr.)
The Knights are going to be one of the youngest 5-A lowcountry teams this season. Dennie McDaniel anticipates only 5 seniors will be starting on offense and defense combined so he knows the program has to look long term as well as at the present. As he goes into year 2 of his tenure at Stratford, McDaniel says he’s feeling more comfortable this season and the players have bought in to what the program is trying to do.
Summerville Green Wave
Head Coach: Joe Call (5th season)
Last Season: 11-3 (Lower State Finals)
Top Returners: Brody Hopkins (WR, Sr.), Adam McKanna (OL, Sr.), Zavier Davis (DL, Sr.), Luke Taylor (LB, Sr.), Derrion Larry (RB, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: KJ Rollins (RB, Jr.), Colby Shirey (QB, So.)
There’s a lot of talent to replace for Joe Call’s team that reached the Lower State finals last season. Most notably at quarterback where sophomore Colby Shirey takes over this season. Call said they’re hoping to minimize what he has to do early on in the season and rely more on the running game. That will fall into the hands of KJ Rollins who is expected to get the bulk of the carries. Shirey will also have Brody Hopkins to throw the ball to when he’s in trouble.
Head Coach: Jimmy Noonan (12th season)
Last Season: 5-7
Top Returners: Will Pickren (DB, Sr.), Dillon McCarthy (WR, Sr.), Maken Glover (WR, Sr.), Elijah Booth (RT, Sr.), Jake Fetchum (LB, Sr.), Colby McQueen (LB, Sr.)
Top Newcomers: Hampton Walker (DT, Sr.), Treyvon Green (DT, Sr.)
The biggest question for the Warriors at the start of the season comes at quarterback where Will Pickren, who played well there at the end of last season, is being moved back to defensive back. Jimmy Noonan says there are four players competing for the starting spot right now but he’s not opposed to using multiple QB’s during a game if that’s what he needs to do. Noonan says the defensive line is all new this season but he hopes Hampton Walker and Treyvon Green will be able to anchor things for the rest of the defense.
West Ashley Wildcats
Head Coach: William Wineburg (1st season)
Last Season: 6-6
Top Returners: Caleb Edwards (LB, So.), Amari Jenkins (DB, Sr.)
The Wildcats won their first playoff game in school history last season and followed that up by firing head coach Bobby Marion midway through the summer. William Wineburg takes over on an interim basis this year. He inherits a team that has a lot of holes to fill from last year but should have enough to make another run to the postseason.