Are you ready for some football?
A year smarter. A year faster. And, a year stronger.
That combination just might be the cure for the Hanahan High School football team as the Hawks opened camp Friday in preparation for the 2017 football season. Friday was the first day High School League members were allowed to practice and Coach Charlie Patterson liked what he saw at first glance as his team tries to bounce back from last year, when the Hawks struggled on defense and managed only three wins in 11 games.
Patterson said there is no sense of urgency. Last year was just a matter of being too inexperienced on defense.
“That was the biggest part of it,” said Patterson, who watched his team surrender too many points per game last fall. “We had players starting who perhaps should have been playing on the JV team. We had six sophomores and a freshman who started. But they are all back on defense and that should be a plus. They will benefit from another year in the weight room and another year’s worth of experience.”
The brand-spanking new Philip Simmons High School and Bishop England also practiced for the first time on Friday.
Philip Simmons Coach Eric Bendig was happy with the turnout.
“We had 45 players on Friday and a couple more on Saturday,” said Bendig, who is in his first year as a head coach after serving as an assistant at Hanahan, Wando and Ashley Ridge. He was the offensive coordinator for the Swamp Foxes before being named the main man for PSHS Iron Horses.
Bendig noted his team had voluntary workouts over the summer and attendance was good.
“Now, we’re talking about another level of commitment of being there five and six days of the week. The players have bought into it, and so have the parents. It’s just amazing to see this program taking shape.”
Philip Simmons High will compete as a junior varsity team this fall with a 10-game schedule. The roster will include only freshman and sophomores. The team will compete at the varsity level in 2018.
Bishop England Coach John Cantey can relate to Patterson’s concerns about defense. The Bishops return eight starters on offense from last year’s team that went 8-3, including 2-2 in Region 7-AAA. The piece of the puzzle that has to be solved is on the other side of the ball where only three starters return.
We will spend the first few days trying to figure out who will be where on defense,” Cantey said. “We have to replace a lot of people on defense.”
With former BE Head Coach Jim Daniel back on campus as the offensive coordinator, look for the Bishops to open up the playbook.
But as Cantey planned for the 2017 season, he had to only think back to the 2011 and ’12 seasons to realize defense wins championships. The Bishops won back-to-back state titles those years with a ball-hawking defense that was strong in fundamentals and was able to go sideline-to-sideline to shut down opposing offenses.
“We’re going to have to rely heavily on offense the early part of the season,”Cantey said. “But the defense will have to come around.”