Heading into his fourth season as the head football coach at Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School, Jahmaal Nelson should feel like the foundation is built and the Jaguars are beginning to gain their footing, but it seems more like he’s starting at square one.
The Jaguars have been hit hard by transfers to private schools and a lack of commitment to the program, leaving the roster light on experience despite returning five starters on offense and six on defense. The roster includes 15 freshmen and four seniors, only one of which is in his fourth year in the program under Nelson.
The offense has nowhere to go but up after being shut out five times in 10 games a year ago and totaling 101 points. Quarterback Derald Nelson, a pitcher on the Jaguars’ baseball team, has shown promise, giving the offense a chance to be more balanced and open up running lanes for Freddie Aiken III.
With the exception of a three-game stretch in which they were outscored 168-0 by Hilton Head Island, Wade Hampton, and Bluffton, the Jaguars were solid defensively in 2016, and they have enough talent back on that side of the ball to expect to be as good or better.
RIDGELAND-HARDEEVILLE JAGUARS FOOTBALL
Coach: Jahmaal Nelson
Record at RHHS: 12-20 (fourth season)
2016 record: 2-8 (0-4 region)
Returning starters: 5 offense, 6 defense
Offensive scheme: Flexbone
Defensive scheme: 3-3 stack
Top returners: RB/OLB Freddie Aiken III, WR/FS Ronald Zimmerman
Breakout candidates: RB/CB Marquese Grant, FB/OLB Malik White, WR/CB Jertaveon Smalls
Outlook: The Jaguars lost their last two region games by a combined four points last season, and had those close calls gone the other way it would have been considered a successful campaign. With just moderate improvement this year, RHHS could get to four or five wins.
|8/18||at Thomas Heyward||7:30 p.m.|
|8/25||vs. Estill||7:30 p.m.|
|9/8||vs. Lake Marion||7:30 p.m.|
|9/15||vs. Colleton County||7:30 p.m.|
|9/22||vs. Hilton Head Island||7:30 p.m.|
|10/6||at May River*||7:30 p.m.|
|10/13||vs. Battery Creek*||7:30 p.m.|
|10/20||at Wade Hampton*||7:30 p.m.|
|10/27||vs. Bluffton*||7:30 p.m.|