Believe it or not, we’ve already reached the quarter mark of the high school football regular season, and while the entire tapestry of the 2022 season has not yet been completed, we can start to make out a sketch of what things are going to look like.
Several Lowco teams were who we thought they were this week — Whale Branch, Wade Hampton, Colleton Prep, and Thomas Heyward all stayed undefeated and Beaufort High took care of business — and another showed its hot start was no fluke … keep an eye on Estill in Class 1A.
Of course, none of this (or very little of it) will actually matter in the end. No one remembers your non-region schedule if you take care of business when it counts.
With that said, here are …
FIVE THINGS I THINK I KNOW AFTER WEEK 2
- Beaufort High has the best fans in the Lowco, and Jimmy Searson is exhibit A.
If you haven’t spent a Friday night tucked amongst the trees on the Isle of Ladies, you haven’t experienced high school football in the Lowco at its finest, and it all starts with the fan support. From the pre-game Eagle Walk to the Kirkland Krazies and the 90s soundtrack bouncing off the oaks and pines, it’s the perfect setting, and Jimmy Searson personifies it. Jimmy attended his 600th Beaufort High football game on Friday night — he’s been at all but one in half a century since he was born — and appropriately, it was an Eagles win. We’re thrilled to have Jimmy helping us report on the Eagles this season. No one knows the team or its rich history better. Here’s to hundreds more, Jimmy.
- The passing game (gasp!) will propel Whale Branch deeper in the playoffs.
Let’s all hope Jerry Hatcher is sitting down on the off chance he reads this, because he’s not going to like it one bit, but the Warriors’ fate lies on the capable right arm (and the two quick feet) of quarterback Jakhi Pusha. Don’t get it twisted, Whale Branch will always run the ball, but especially now that Clifton Major appears to be down long-term with a knee injury, this Warriors team doesn’t have the personnel to ride its running backs the way it has in the past — and it doesn’t need to. Pusha proved Friday night he can get the ball to his weapons on the outside, and Keith Chisholm and JaDarius Garrett give the Warriors the elements they need to stretch the field and open up running lanes for Mason Griffin, Alonzo Allen, and Davon Evans. A second dimension in the offense is just what Whale Branch needs to keep strong defenses honest in the postseason and finally get over the hump, and if they do that, even a guy like Hatcher, who firmly believes that two things can happen when you throw the ball and two of them are bad, will come around.
- The Davis twins are the real deal, and so is their offensive line.
There’s double trouble in the Colleton Prep backfield, and quarterback Cole Davis and twin brother and running back Caleb Davis are taking full advantage of a veteran offensive line. The Davis duo has compiled 681 rushing yards and 10 TDs running behind a rock-solid line anchored by 6-4, 300-pound mammoth Walker Nettles and fellow seniors Gus Warren and Wyatt Drew, and Caleb has also done damage through the air, tossing two TD passes each of the past two games. There are tougher tests ahead, including an Oct. 21 showdown at Beaufort Academy that suddenly seems huge, but coach Greg Langdale believes the War Hawks have a chance to win every game on their schedule, and after what we’ve seen from the Davis twins thus far, we tend to agree.
- JPII is going to put up some points.
Now, whether the Golden Warriors can get enough stops on defense to win many games in the reconfigured SCISA Class 3A is yet to be seen, but that offense? Ooooh, boy, JPII games are going to be worth the price of admission, assuming they don’t charge by the point. Jackson Ogden showed what he is capable of with a six-touchdown performance Saturday morning, and Tony Hill added some tough running to help fuel the high-powered ground game we expected from the Golden Warriors, but it was the improved passing from Christian Tilton that really stood out. Tilton is always a threat with his legs, but if he can continue to make plays downfield with his arm, a few more of these shootouts might start going the Golden Warriors’ way.
- The Hampton County Hurricanes are going to be a force.
When Wade Hampton and Estill squared off for the last time — at least for the foreseeable future, never say never (see Ridgeland/Hardeeville) — on Friday night in the “Last Battle,” it was the end of a long-standing rivalry and the beginning of what could be something pretty special. The two schools sent their rivalry packing with a thrilling battle that Wade Hampton held on to win 29-26, then they met at midfield as future teammates. The teams will be consolidated next season to form the Hampton County Hurricanes, and with a strong crew of returning players from Rob Hanna’s undefeated Red Devils squad and an uber-talented junior class of Gators who just pushed them to the brink joining forces, 2023 could bring a category 5 football season to Hampton County. Zion Dobson, Xavier Garvin, Jamil Bobean, and Chris Terry in the same offense? Better just evacuate.
That’s a wrap on Week 2. Week 3 starts Friday. Until kickoff, Go Lowco.
By Justin Jarrett / LowcoSports.com