Ben German will be relied on this season as a receiving and defensive threat.
The life of a private school 2A athletic program was clear Thursday night.
Palmetto Christian Academy was supposed to have its first official football practice at its usual location on a lot adjacent to the school parking lot. But, new construction reduced the field by a third and forced the Eagles to practice on a nearby Town of Mount Pleasant field.
Twenty-one players and eight coaches and volunteers followed a beaten path through the woods. And then, it was finally business as usual.
“We literally thought a week and a half ago we were at 17 players,” coach Jim Daniel said. Four players had conflicts but are on the roster and a couple stragglers could join later, so Palmetto Christian's roster could increase to 27 players.
Most of the starters from last year's group, which went 7-4 and lost in the first round of the SCISA 2A state playoffs, have returned this season. While talent is back, a feel-good amount of depth did not show up on Thursday.
J.T. Waters has three years of starting quarterback experience. Ryan Roe emerged as a threat at tailback and on defense last year. Both are visibly stronger this season, and several other players have bought into an emphasis in the weight room.
“We literally don't have a weight room. They took it upon themselves this year,” Daniel said, adding they've been lifting weights with limited equipment in the gymnasium during early morning summer workouts. Roe has even hosted the team at his house for workouts.
“We didn't have the kids who bought into it,” Daniel said of past years. “This class bought into it.”
Other senior leaders include linemen Will Tuchfarber and Aaron Holley. The Eagles faced several difficult teams last season, and Daniel expects this year's opponents to be even tougher. During that inaugural 2A season, Palmetto Christian beat teams it was supposed to beat and lost to teams it was supposed to lose to.
“Last year we lost to two state champions and one runner-up,” Daniel said.
How can the Eagles take the next step and be considered one of SCISA's best 2A programs? “Just compete,” Daniel said. “All we're asking of these kids is to compete.”
Palmetto Christian opens its season with a game the Tuesday before Sertoma, Aug. 20, against Porter-Gaud. It will play Kingstree for a quarter on Friday at Sertoma.