Bishop England has two state championship trophies and an 18-game region winning streak heading into Friday’s Region 6-AA showdown against Woodland.
The Wolverines have the motivation.
“We’ve been in this position before,” Woodland coach Mathis Burnette said of the 7:30 p.m. game at Bishop England. “It’s not like we haven’t been in the spotlight before. Two years ago, we played Hanahan. Last year, we played Bishop England and were in the game in the fourth quarter. This year, we have to complete the mission.”
The Wolverines, ranked No. 4 in Class AA, are attempting to go undefeated in the regular season for the first time in the school’s 14-year history. Woodland is 8-0, including 5-0 in the region. Bishop England is 6-2, 5-0.
“We’re excited to play in this type of game,” Burnette said. “You’ve got to beat the best if you want to be the best. I think Bishop England is a solid team. They lost to West Ashley and Hanahan, two of the better teams in the Lowcountry. We have to play our best game of the year to win. But that’s the way it should be.”
The Bishops have set the standard for Division II-AA teams the past three seasons. They are 32-4 during the stretch and have won 18 straight conference games dating back to late in the 2010 season.
But Bishop England coach John Cantey knows his team will be tested by an offense that runs the ball well and has a quarterback, Drake Knight, who is undersized but makes up for it with his mental and physical toughness.
The Wolverines’ defense is physical and swarms to the ball.
Junior Mike Barnett is the common factor. He is a 6-4, 240-pound offensive tackle/defensive end who will be one of the most highly recruited linemen in the state next year.
“We’re way better up front than I thought we would be,” said Burnette, whose team is averaging 42.3 points per game. “We can run the football and our quarterback has done everything we have asked of him. He understands the offense.”
The Bishops have settled on Reed Fosberry as their starting quarterback. Cantey wanted to play him on defense only, but the senior was too valuable to keep off the field.
The Bishops have passed only 66 times this season. Fosberry has attempted 48 of those passes and has completed 40 percent of his attempts for 437 yards and seven scores. He must have a good game to take some pressure off running back Nick Shiver. The senior averages 13.2 yards per carry and needs 73 yards to top 1,000 yards for the season.
“Nick has done a great job,” Cantey said. “Once he hits the hole, he has the ability to break off long runs.”
The Bishops opened the season with back-to-back losses against West Ashley and Hanahan, but have breezed through region play.
“A game like this is what we work for, what we gear up for,” Cantey said.
“We played a tough non-conference schedule to get ready for this. Now, we just have to be ready Friday night.”