Bishop England High School football coach John Cantey believes his 2020 football team has the potential to win the Region 8-AAA championship.
But Cantey, who has been around the Bishop program since he was a toddler, knows defense wins championships. And that’s an area the Bishops must build on and improve each week if they are to challenge Oceanside Collegiate and Hanahan for the conference crown.
The Bishops took a big hit on defense when the school’s graduation was held at the end of the 2019-20 academic year, a year that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Bishops were not able to hold spring practices because of the ban on high school sports due to the pandemic.
But Cantey, who is second in school history in career victories behind his father, Jack Cantey, says the potential is there on defense.
“We have to pretty much completely reload on defense,” said Cantey, who begins the 2020 season with 87 career victories compared to his father’s 184 career wins. “We’ve got the players who can do the job, it’s just a matter of finding out who fits best in each position.”
The Bishops, who went 6-4 last fall, including 4-1 in Region 7-AAA play, allowed only 16.9 points per game, and the defense was especially tough in region play, allowing 12 points per contest. The only returning starters on defense are lineman Matthew Champlain and linebacker Nathan Everman.
At this stage of the preseason, most defenses are usually ahead of the offense in development, but that’s not the case at BE this season.
The offense will carry the Bishops early in the season, and must be ready for the season-opener on Sept. 25 when the Bishops travel to Oceanside Collegiate in a Region 8-AAA game that will strongly affect the region standings and eventually, the region championship.
Another key game is Oct. 30 when the Bishops play rival Hanahan. Hanahan hired Art Craig as its coach during the offseason. Craig comes to Hanahan from Timberland, one of the best Class AA programs in the state.
The offense has the potential to be explosive with star-studded skill position players.
Ed Marinaro, who can beat you with his arm or legs, will be the starting quarterback. Marinaro, who replaces Cam Costa, who graduated this spring, will direct an offense that will be heavy in spread formations. He was able to run, throw and catch the football last fall and is on some preseason all-state teams as an athlete.
Look for talented running back Michael Long to be a big contributor – and factor. Last fall, he rushed for 916 yards and eight TDs, while catching 18 passes for 158 yards.
When Marinaro passes, he has plenty of options as the Bishops have some talented skill people on the perimeter. Heading up the list is senior Sammy Gress, who caught 21 passes for 202 yards last fall. Shane Snyder and Keegan Bittner also are impressive targets.
The offensive line should be strong, with veterans and talent at almost every position. Key lineman include Jackson Carroll, Max Hulen and Remy Moxley.
Cantey admits the lead up to the 2020 season has been unlike any season he’s been a part of as a player or coach.
High School League rules limited the size of groups during workouts, and that was something completely
“For the longest time, we were limited to working with groups of nine players, so as coach, you couldn’t see everybody at the same time,” he said. “Then they increased the group size to 16, and finally workouts involved the entire team. At least football gave the
kids a chance to get out in a controlled environment, so they weren’t stuck at home. But, when we were working in the small groups, it didn’t feel like football. But now, it feels like football.”
BISHOP ENGLAND SCHEDULE
Region 8-AAA Fall Schedule
Sept. 25 @ Oceanside Collegiate
Oct. 2 Academic Magnet (Home)
Oct. 9 @ Battery Creek
Oct. 16 @ North Charleston
Oct. 23 Hanahan (Home)
Oct. 30 @ James Island
Nov. 6 Philip Simmons (Home)