Every season seems to bring a new challenge for Beaufort Academy’s football team these days. Two years ago, they had a new coach. A year ago, the daunting task of defending a state title. And this year, a move up from 8-man football to the 11-man game.
The Eagles begin a new era Friday, hosting St. John’s Christian Academy in a matchup of teams making the leap from 8-man ball to play their first 11-man game.
The state championship defense didn’t go well, as injuries derailed an already young team, but the Eagles closed out the season on a high note and hit the ground running in the offseason. They feel well prepared for the step up, thanks to a nice core of returners, an influx of talent from the JV program, and a handful of transfers.
— PRESENTING SPONSOR —
BEAUFORT ACADEMY EAGLES FOOTBALL
Coach: Mark Clifford
Record at BA: 15-7 (3rd season)
2019 record: 4-5, 2-4 region
Top returners: WR/DE Elijah Fess, OL/DL Malakai Steiniger, LB Braydon Dineen
Notable losses: QB Dawson Coleman, WR/DB William Tumlin , RB/LB Jacob Union
Breakout candidates: RB/LB Ja’Sean Lawson, QB/DB Kai’Shawn Jenkins, RB/DB Jaxen Porter, RB/DB Devonte Green, OL/DL John Asher Howell
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• Ja’Sean Lawson, RB: Lawson was the understudy to standout DeShawn Epps on the state championship team two years ago and was sidelined by injuries last season, but now he’s ready to carry the load. His compact frame might allow him to disappear behind the line of scrimmage and squeak through holes, especially because he’s a powerful runner with a low center of gravity.
• Kai’Shawn Jenkins, QB: Jenkins got a baptism by fire last season when Coleman was nagged by injuries, and he showed signs of developing into a dangerous dual-threat. He will have plenty of talent around him and fits well into Clifford’s run-first philosophy on offense, so if he can mature as a decision-maker, BA could put up big numbers.
Can the offensive line hold its own?
The Eagles have the players at the skill positions to do some damage if an inexperienced offensive line can give them a chance against a SCISA 2A schedule. Clifford is excited about the gains made in the weight room in the summer, but BA will be undersized up front, and that’s harder to hide on offense.
REGION AND BEYOND
BA is the X-factor in its region because of the move up from 8-man, but the Eagles will have an excellent shot at a playoff spot, and a second-place finish in the region isn’t out of the question. They probably aren’t quite ready to unseat HHCA as the region champion, but the rest of the region games look winnable at worst.
8/28 — vs. St. John’s Christian
9/4 — vs. Bethesda Academy
9/11 — at Colleton Prep
9/18 — at Northwood Academy*
9/25 — vs. Thomas Heyward
10/2 — at Hilton Head Prep*
10/9 — vs. Thomas Sumter
10/16 — at Orangeburg Prep*
10/23 — vs. Hilton Head Christian Academy*
10/30 — at John Paul II*
Written by Justin Jarrett