HSFB 2020: Rebels reloaded to try for three-peat

Successfully defending a state title is always a challenge. Doing it again is a daunting task. But if anyone is up to the job, it’s Thomas Heyward Academy.

The Rebels are reloaded and ready for another run at the SCISA 1A crown they’ve worn for the past two years, and with roster packed with talent, including a key group of returners and an influx of transfers, they’re the clear favorite to make it three in a row.

THA shifted its mindset after a regular-season loss to Bethesda Academy last season and outscored its final four opponents 142-25 by embracing a dominance in the trenches with a renewed purpose to run the ball. The Rebels might not be quite as dominant up front this season, but the offensive line is still plenty stout, and THA has the weapons to hurt defenses.

The defense that absolutely owned the postseason has numerous key players back, and the addition of Ridgeland-Hardeeville transfer Brandon Howard at linebacker should help make this one of SCISA’s best defensive units again.

— PRESENTING SPONSOR — 

THOMAS HEYWARD ACADEMY REBELS FOOTBALL

Coach: Nic Shuford

Record at THA: 78-40 (12th season)

2019 record: 11-2, 3-1 region, SCISA 1A champions

Top returners: QB Peyton Bennett, ATH Bruzza Pusha, ATH Zack Black, OL John Hewlett, OL Therion Cannon

Notable losses: RB JR Patterson, ATH Louie Smith, RB/DB John Clark Tilton, OL/DL Dalton Hayes, DL Jarius Gordon

Breakout candidates: RB Anthony Fripp, OL Luke Bond, OL/DL Max Hickey

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brandon Howard, ATH: Howard is the latest transfer from Ridgeland-Hardeeville, ensuring he has a chance to play his junior season. He made his biggest contributions to the Jaguars at linebacker, but expect THA’s coaching staff to find numerous ways to get him involved in every aspect to maximize his impact. 

Therion Cannon, OL: Cannon was one of the anchors of a dominant offensive line a year ago, and now he’s the unquestioned leader of the unit. At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, he’s a monster in the SCISA ranks but projects as a guard at the next level and has several offers, including UAB and Army.

BURNING QUESTION

Who will carry the load in the backfield? 

JR Patterson led the area in rushing a year ago but wasn’t enrolled at Thomas Heyward to start the school year, and John Clark Tilton is gone to graduation, opening up an opportunity to become the lead back. Anthony Fripp will get the first shot to by the featured back, but the Rebels have a number of options who can do damage on the ground, and the coaching staff hasn’t been shy about getting creative in the past.

REGION AND BEYOND

THA has to be the overwhelming favorite to three-peat, but the biggest threat still comes from inside the region in the form of Bethesda Academy. A brutal non-region schedule, including trips to First Baptist and Trinity-Byrnes, should have the Rebels well-prepared for another deep postseason run. 

SCHEDULE

8/28 — vs. First Baptist
9/4 — at Dorchester Academy*
9/11 — at Trinity-Byrnes
9/18 — vs. Hilton Head Prep
9/25 — at Beaufort Academy
10/2 — at John Paul II
10/9 — vs. Colleton Prep*
10/16 — at St. John’s Christian*
10/23 — vs. Bethesda Academy*
10/30 — at Greenwood Christian*

*region opponent 

— SUPPORTING SPONSORS — 

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