By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
The first thing that jumps out during preseason football practice at Thomas Heyward Academy is the bright pink jersey Logan Thomas dons, a clear signal to his teammates to avoid contact with the star quarterback.
It doesn’t take much longer to see why Thomas needs such a bold non-contact jersey – because the Rebels like to hit.
With Thomas back for his senior season at the helm of the offense and an experienced and aggressive defensive front, the Rebels figure to contend for a SCISA Region 2-1A title and make some noise in the state playoffs.
That outlook comes with the usual caveat that they can’t afford any key injuries, least of all to Thomas, who passed for 1,087 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season and led the team with 682 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Three starting offensive linemen also return, along with running backs Caleb Tufts and River Pender, who are poised for breakout seasons. The big question on offense is who will be on the receiving end of Thomas’ strikes – no returning player caught more than three passes last year.
The Rebels should be able to wreak havoc on opposing backfields with standout defensive ends Timber Hexamer and Zach Bond back, along with the entire starting linebacker corps. Replacing the entire starting secondary is the biggest concern on that side of the ball.
THOMAS HEYWARD ACADEMY REBELS FOOTBALL
Coach: Nic Shuford
Record at THA: 51-33 (9th season)
2016 record: 5-5 (3-2 region)
Playoffs: Lost in SCISA Class 1A quarterfinals
Returning starters: 6 offense, 5 defense
Offensive scheme: Spread
Defensive scheme: 4-2-5
Top returners: QB Logan Thomas; OL Evan Brazil; OL/DE Timber Hexamer; DE Zach Bond; OLB Jake Masters
Breakout candidates: RB Caleb Tufts; RB River Pender
Outlook: Don’t be surprised if the region title hangs in the balance when the Rebels travel to Colleton Prep in the final week of the regular season, and the team that claims the region crown will have an inside track to reach the SCISA Class 1A championship game.
|8/18||vs. Ridgeland-Hardeeville||7:30 p.m.|
|8/25||at Hilton Head Prep||5 p.m.|
|9/1||vs. St. Andrews||7:30 p.m.|
|9/8||vs. Bethesda Day||7:30 p.m.|
|9/22||vs. John Paul II*||7:30 p.m.|
|9/29||vs. Hilton Head Christian Academy||7:30 p.m.|
|10/6||at Williamsburg Academy||7:30 p.m.|
|10/13||vs. Dorchester Academy*||7:30 p.m.|
|10/20||at Palmetto Christian*||7:30 p.m.|
|10/27||at Colleton Prep*||7:30 p.m.|