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Trio of local high school football standouts ‘owe their well-earned accolades’ to MPRD youth days

  • Monday, October 7, 2013

Santos poses with several youth football players after a beach conditioning session in 2009. Reed Fosberry is sitting on the ground at bottom right, and J.T. Waters is kneeling just off Santos’ right arm. Other future standout athletes in the picture include: Hudson Little (standing at the top), Nick Shiver (sitting on the ground, bottom left) and Lawton Fosberry (kneeling just above Shiver). COURTESY OF GARY SANTOS

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget that even the best high school football players are just kids. They grow up on Friday afternoon nachos in the cafeteria, will eventually regret obsessing over certain girls and test Facebook’s capacity for adding “friends.”

Athletically, improvement at a young age is accomplished by having close friends who rival your talents and aren’t afraid to challenge you to an impromptu pickup basketball game, a two-hand tag football game or a home run derby contest.

Captains of three East Cooper high schools – Reed Fosberry (Bishop England), Nolan Kelleher (Wando) and J.T. Waters (Palmetto Christian) – are all products of the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department.

“Reed and J.T. have been attached at the hip as teammates and competitors for as long as anyone can remember,” Marty Fosberry, Reed’s father, said.

Last season, the two friendly foes provided a thrilling storyline of their own. Waters scored five points in the first 34 seconds of Palmetto Christian’s basketball gamee at Bishope England. He went on to drop 21 at Bishop England. Fosberry clinched the rivalry win, though, with a steal and free throw with 1.4 seconds left to win the game for the Battling Bishops.

Marty Fosberry and Johnny Waters, J.T.’s father, grew up together as neighbors on James Island, so naturally, when they both had sons the same age, the boys also became friends.

Fosberry said J.T. and Reed played basketball together from the first through eight grades at Christ Our King-Stella Maris School and football through the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department from second through eighth grades.

“I think there is a team picture floating around with all three of them as youngsters on a Mount Pleasant baseball all-star team,” Fosberry recalled, adding Nick Ciuffo was also on the team. Ciuffo was drafted in the first round of the past MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.

“Nolan is enormous – always has been,” Fosberry added. “When he was in small fry baseball, he played catcher. The coach had to put the chest protector on the ground, and Nolan would lie on it face-down. Then, they could pull and stretch and connect the gear – an unforgettable spectacle.”

Kelleher, at 6-feet-6-inches tall and weighing about 300 pounds, is committed to the University of Florida to play lineman. Waters, a quarterback averaging more than 200 yards passing and rushing per game this season, and Fosberry, a quarterback and feared defensive back, are both weighing Division I athletic scholarship options.

Gary Santos, referred to as the “modern father of Mount Pleasant football,” has been coaching youth football for 35 years. He trained players like Reed, J.T., Nick Shiver, Lawton Fosberry and Hudson Little. All of them, except for Waters, are now playing prominent roles for Bishop England. Shiver is a bruising tailback with college-ready speed, Lawton plays linebacker and had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown earlier this season, and Little is a major Division I prospect on the offensive line.

Santos referenced a 2009 picture with those athletes after a conditioning session he held at the beach. “This picture shows the dedication that these players put into their offseason conditioning, which was needed to perform at a higher level. You can see that intensity on both of their faces,” Santos said, talking about Reed and J.T. “While some kids are smiling, these two are serious. This is how they approached their football, as well – with intensity.

“These two epitomize the worth ethic – always being first in line for drills, dedication – never missed a workout, and determination – always wanted to be on the field – that has, in my opinion, made them the athletes they are today.”

In 2009, that group, featuring a bevy of future high school standouts, won the regular season and postseason championships. Marty Fosberry said these athletes can attribute their successes to time spent with the local athletic department. “They all owe their well-earned accolades to the development offered by the excellent Mount Pleasant Recreation Department,” he said. “All three (Reed, J.T. and Nolan) are main characters in the story of their respective schools’ unprecedented achievement.”

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