Week 1 preview: East Cooper football kickoff

  • Thursday, August 28, 2014

East Cooper kicks off the 2014 season Friday. BE FLICKR

Bishop England head coach John Cantey loves the challenge of going up against bigger schools and will get a taste right away as the Bishops kick off the regular season against Class AAAA West Ashley at home.

The Bishops fell, 28-6, in last season's matchup to jumpstart the Wildcats' six-win revival campaign. West Ashley racked up 294 rushing yards in that game, led by quarterback Pedro Manigault who accounted for 113 on the ground.

With Manigault now at Goose Creek, junior Justin Berry, a transfer from Illinois, takes control under center and is joined by a pair of senior running backs in Marquize Jenkins and Juwan Wise.

“We have to stop the run to have a chance,” Cantey said. “Their quarterback is a pretty solid transfer. We have to stop the inside run and stuff the gadget plays and little option trick stuff.”

Last season, the Wildcats' defensive front limited the Bishops to 64 rushing yards. Senior defensive lineman Jamel Mitchell is the sole returner on the front four, while 200-pound senior outside linebacker Malik Thompkins leads the fresh faces in the linebacking corps.

“They've been very good upfront the past couple of years,” Cantey said. “When we struggle against them, it's because of their front four.

“Looking back at last year, it wasn't so much of what they did well as it was what we did poorly, especially on defense. Endurance and execution is key. As long as everybody does their job properly, we'll be in the game.”

Wando

Wando head coach Jimmy Noonan likes to lineup against Midlands competition and will get his fix early this season as Wando hosts White Knoll in its regular-season opener.

White Knoll is coming off of a six-win season in 2013 that left the Timberwolves positioned toward the bottom of Class AAAA Region V.

Fort Mill dealt them a 49-21 Week Zero loss last Saturday in Lexington. Tied 7-7 after the opening quarter, Fort Mill reeled off 28 unanswered in the second quarter.

The Timberwolves tallied 238 rushing yards but managed just 55 through the air last week. Junior quarterback Calev Grubb was 4-of-11 passing with an interception but led the team in rushing with 12 carries for 50 yards.

White Knoll had four players with at least five carries in Week Zero – six rushed for 34 yards or more – but 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior E'Mond Brown is expected to be the feature back. Brown rushed for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 8.2 yards per carry last season.

Senior defensive lineman Zach Riley returns to lead the Timberwolves upfront while senior defensive back Kendrick Curry captains the secondary. White Knoll allowed 30 points per game last season.

Palmetto Christian

Palmetto Christian makes its regular-season debut and first under new head coach Chris Shimakonis on the road against Porter-Gaud.

The Cyclones will be looking to rebound from a Week Zero 39-29 loss to Class A Estill. They could also be seeking redemption for last season's 62-49 loss to the Eagles that made national headlines behind quarterback J.T. Waters' 600-yard, eight-touchdown performance.

Just six starters return from last year's Cyclones team, one on offense. Senior offensive lineman Travis Barnett leads the Porter-Gaud offense upfront and doubles at linebacker.

“We know Porter-Gaud is always going to be a well-coached, disciplined team,” Palmetto Christian head coach Chris Shimakonis said. “They're a physical group. We know what we're in for.”

The transfer of 3,000-yard passer Steven Duncan to Ashley Ridge threw a wrinkle in Porter-Gaud's fast-paced, spread offense this offseason. Senior running back and receiver Kris Johnson will assume quarterback duties.

Last season's leading rusher C.J. Pinckney-Stokes returns in the backfield, along with Allan Waters, who accounted for 186 total yards of offense in last year's matchup.

Senior Jeremy Hunt returns at safety to man the secondary after leading the team in tackles last season.

Porter-Gaud held a 21-14 lead at halftime against Estill last week but was outscored 24-8 in the second half.

“From our side, it's an opportunity for some young guys to step up and make an impact,” Shimakonis said. “You're always excited to play in an environment like that, under the lights, against a program like Porter-Gaud. We're tired of hitting each other every day in practice. We're ready to get the season going.”

Coastal Christian

The Cougars travel to Charleston Collegiate Week 1 looking to snap a 12-game skid.

Coastal fell 50-8 at Laurens Academy in its Week Zero season opener last Friday.

Charleston Collegiate returns seven starters from a team that won six games last season, including an 82-14 win over Coastal.

Sophomore running back Malik Baqi is expected to lead the charge offensively for Charleston Collegiate. Baqi tallied 120 all-purpose yards in last season's matchup.

Frankie Mansfield, the sports reporter for the Moultrie News can be seen all around the state following teams to meets, games, and matches. For score updates, breaking sports news, and more, follow @fjmansfield on Twitter and like Moultrie News Sports on Facebook.

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