Oceanside has landed inside the top 10 of the high school football state rankings for the first time in program history.
The Landsharks appear at No. 8 in Class AA of the preseason S.C. Prep Football Media Poll, released this week.
Oceanside received votes during Week 8 and 9 of last season but never enough to break into the top 10. The Landsharks return a large share of starters, including their top passer, rusher, and three leading receivers, from a team that averaged 36 points per game and finished 8-3 last fall.
The Landsharks are expected to once again contend with Timberland for the Region 6-AA championship. The Wolves are positioned third in the preseason state rankings.
No team in the Lowcounty has been as dominant as the Timberland over the past two decades. The Wolves have won 16 region championships in 17 years under Art Craig, posting a 184-37 overall record. They’ll be replacing their starting quarterback on offense and a North-South all-star on defense but return a couple top backs to a powerful running game.
Timberland hasn’t lost a region game since 2012, including a 34-14 win over Oceanside in what amounted to the region championship game last fall.
Also a perennial Lowcountry power, Fort Dorchester is listed third in Class AAAAA.
The Patriots won 10 games last season and return a defense that boasts Division I offers at all three levels. Linebacker Darryle Ware and defensive lineman Emmanuel Johnson, both three-star senior prospects, are ranked among the top players in the state.
One of the only teams to defeat Fort Dorchester last season, Summerville is listed just outside the AAAAA top 10.
The Green Wave went 11-3 last season, advancing to the Lower State championship game. Summerville is replacing its starting quarterback but should be strong enough upfront to help the newcomer along.
Berkeley dealt Summerville its only in-state loss during the regular season last fall. The Stags join the Green Wave on the outer lining of the AAAAA top 10 heading into this season.
Berkeley went 11-2, falling to Fort Dorchester during the regular season and to Summerville in the state quarterfinals. The Stags graduated their starting quarterback, running back and top two receivers from last fall.
Wando will host Fort Dorchester, Summerville and Berkeley this season, beginning with a season opener against the Green Wave on Sept. 30, and followed by meetings with the Patriots on Sept. 13 and the Stags on Oct. 4.
Hanahan received votes in the Class AAA rankings.
The Hawks are replacing their top two rushers from last season but seem to have momentum to build off after winning the Region 8-AAA championship and finishing 9-4 overall in David Morbitzer’s first season as head coach.
Wando will host Hanahan in a preseason scrimmage Aug. 22 in Mount Pleasant. Bishop England will face the Hawks in region play Oct. 4 on Daniel Island. Academic Magnet travels to Hanahan the following week.
Preseason S.C. Prep Football Media Poll
1. Dutch Fork (12)
3. Fort Dorchester
9. River Bluff
Others receiving votes: West Florence, Carolina Forest, Summerville, Berkeley, Conway, Boiling Springs
1. Myrtle Beach (12)
5. Ridge View
6. North Myrtle Beach
7. South Pointe
8. North Augusta
9. Belton-Honea Path
Others receiving votes: Westwood, Bluffton, Wren, York, Brookland-Cayce, Greenville, Marlboro County, Eastside
1. Chester (8)
2. Dillon (3)
3. Chapman (1)
4. Union County
5. Strom Thurmond
6. May River
7. Fairfield Central
8. Wade Hampton (H)
Others receiving votes: Newberry, Gilbert, Pendleton, Hanahan, Southside, Aynor, Cheraw, Broome, Manning
1. Abbeville (12)
4. Gray Collegiate
Southside Christian (tie)
7. Carvers Bay
8. Oceanside Collegiate
Others receiving votes: Central, Cheraw, Woodland, Ninety-Six, North Central, Mullins, Whale Branch, Lee Central, Fox Creek, Blacksburg
1. Lamar (3)
2. Green Sea Floyds (8)
3. Wagener-Salley (1)
4. Lake View
5. Baptist Hill
7. Ridge Spring-Monetta
Others receiving votes: Williston-Elko, McCormick, C.E. Murray, Bethune-Bowman, Great Falls, St. John’s, Cross, Whitmire.