When Chris Myers made the move from Dorchester Academy to John Paul II before last season, he knew his first season with the Golden Warriors might be a little lean. But he also knew the program had a bright future, and his second JPII team appears poised to make a big step in that direction in 2020.
The offensive workhorse is gone with Reco Anderson off to Brevard College, but the Golden Warriors have a collection of capable backs and receivers to surround quarterback Jeremiah Young, and they’re excited about a lean and mean offensive line that has improved its physical fitness dramatically since last season.
There are some big holes to fill on defense, and that’s a concern for a team that gave up 40 or more points seven times a year ago. But there’s reason for optimism on that side of the ball, too, with nine starters back. Plus, if the offense can control the ball more than it did last season, it will put the defense in better positions for success.
The schedule might set up well for JPII, which hopes to pull off an upset of sorts in its opener against Orangeburg Prep, then spend the next six weeks preparing for its second region game. A region title would be a stretch, but expect a big step forward in Myers’ second year at the helm.
— PRESENTING SPONSOR —
JOHN PAUL II GOLDEN WARRIORS FOOTBALL
Coach: Chris Myers
Record at JPII: 0-9 (2nd season)
2019 record: 0-9, 0-4 region
Top returners: QB/DB Jeremiah Young, WR/DB Mark Knight, TE/LB Austin McIntosh, OL/LB Hayden Jennings
Notable losses: RB Reco Anderson, LB Josh Horton
Breakout candidates: QB/WR/DB Jackson Ogden, OL/DL John Hughes, OL/DL Peter Hughes, WR/DB Malone Kinard-Huisinger
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jeremiah Young, QB/DB: Young volunteered to be thrown into the fire last season when the Golden Warriors needed a quarterback, and he acquitted himself well despite the overall results. Some tweaks to the offense should allow him to better utilize his skillset to guide an offense that could be sneaky good.
Mark Knight, WR/DB: Knight is the best athlete on the team, and the Golden Warriors will do their best to find ways for him to show it. He will contribute in all three facets of the game and could move around on offense, leaving defenses to pick their poison when trying to stop JPII. Staying healthy has been a concern, but if Knight is 100 percent, he’s a problem for opposing coaches.
Can the defense produce enough stops?
The Golden Warriors should be able to have success on offense, and if they can avoid turnovers they can milk the clock with a strong ground game. But the problem last year was the defense’s inability to stop opponents in the second half. The loss of linebacker Josh Horton leaves a big hole in the middle, but JPII is excited about what Austin McIntosh and Hayden Jennings can do in the linebacking corps, and Young and Knight are outstanding DBs. The question is whether they can sustain the stops for a full game with so many two-way players on tired legs late in the game.
REGION AND BEYOND
There’s no question Hilton Head Christian Academy is the team to beat in the region, but the No. 2 spot could be up for grabs. Orangeburg Prep seems like the most logical challenger to the Eagles, but if JPII can sneak up on the Indians in the season-opener, they’ll be in a good position to make a run at hosting a playoff game.
8/28 — vs. Orangeburg Prep*
9/4 — at St. Andrew’s
9/11 — at Bethesda Academy
9/18 — vs. Cardinal Newman
9/24 — vs. Pinewood Prep
10/2 — vs. Thomas Heyward
10/9 — at Northwood Academy*
10/16 — at Hilton Head Christian*
10/23 — at Hilton Head Prep*
10/30 — vs. Beaufort Academy*
— SUPPORTING SPONSORS —