High school football season kicks off Friday
If you’re a high school football coach, you pretty much concede that the next football season begins the moment your players turn in their uniforms after the last play is run from scrimmage in November.
It’s non-stop: winter workouts, spring practice, voluntary conditioning and 7-on-7 passing leagues in the summer. And even though you prepare for it all year, the opening of fall camp is here before you know it.
The football season kicks off Friday when High School League teams hold their first practice in preparation for the 2019 season. Bishop England coach John Cantey and Philip Simmons coach Eric Bendig shake their heads when you ask them where has the time gone.
“For us, the off-season is non-stop,” said Cantey, who is in his 12th year as head coach of the Bishops and his 23rd year as a coach overall. “We encourage our athletes to play other sports, but we still have conditioning, spring practice and the passing leagues. Now, it’s like summer is gone.”
Both the Bishops and Iron Horses hope for better seasons. The Bishops went 3-7 last year, when Cantey stepped away a good part of the season because of health issues. He’s back and ready to help his team challenge for the Region 7-AAA championship. The Iron Horses went 2-8 last fall in their first season as a varsity team. The big news on campus is this year’s squad includes seniors. The school, which opened in time for the 2017-18 academic year, will hold its first graduation ceremony next spring and 18 football players will get their diplomas.
“Most of the 18 seniors will have significant roles,” Bendig said. “Out of that group, 15 or 16 will have significant roles on offense, defense or special teams.”
The interest in the PSHS football program is very high. The varsity and junior varsity teams could total 80 or 90 players.
The team had a case of bad news-good news this summer. Tripp Williams, a rising sophomore with unlimited potential almost moved out of the area when his father pondered taking a new job. But the timing wasn’t right, and the Williams family remained in the Lowcountry.
Williams appears to be the best of the quarterback contenders, but that will be determined on the field between this Friday, Aug. 2 and Aug. 23 when the Iron Horses travel to St. John’s to battle the Islanders.
Solly Bess and Javier Collins-Smith form one of the state’s best 1-2 running punches. But you’re only as good as your line, and Bendig has three potential stars up front: Keyshawn Lockwood, Carter Ensley and Mickey Walker.
The Bishops also should have a better line this season after pretty much having to retool the entire team after losing 22 seniors from the 2018 team that reached the playoffs.
“The experience on this year’s line should really help,” Cantey said. “We talked about it as coaches during spring ball, and the difference is like night and day.”
The quarterback position is up for grabs with Eddie Marinaro, Jr. and Cameron Costa fighting for the No. 1 spot.
Other key players for the Bishops this fall include DB-RB Sullivan Clair, DB-RB Charlie Michel, LB RB Drew Owens, DB-WR Jarren McCoy and LB Sammy Gress.