Fort Dorchesters young football team loaded with potential
The Fort Dorchester football team is young and doesn’t have a marquee player. What the Patriots do have is potential.
Coach Steve LaPrad, in his 10th year at the school, said during preseason that the underclassmen have the potential to be the best in school history.
One game doesn’t make a season, but LaPrad was pleased by what his team accomplished in Week 1 when the Patriots traveled to Carolina Forest and came away with a 42-21 victory.
“It was a mud bowl,” said LaPrad, whose team hosts Cane Bay at 7:30 p.m. today at Bagwell Stadium. “It affected both teams because everyone was slipping and sliding. We ran the ball well and threw it when we had to. But the one big thing is that Cane Bay will be a much better team.”
LaPrad welcomed back 10 starters from last year’s team. Some of the key returners include wide receiver T.J. Smith, linebacker Kevin Flores and linebacker David Govan. They have talent, but not at the level of former players Carlos Dunlap and Robert Quinn, who now play in the NFL.
“I don’t know if we will ever have another Carlos or Robert,” LaPrad said. “Sometimes, it’s better not to have marquee players like that. Football is played by 11 players. You can have one or two big-name players, but if you don’t play together, it’s futile.
“We still have to see how the year goes,” he added. “We lost a lot of close games last year. We turned the ball over way too many times.”
The Patriots went 7-5 last year for their fifth straight consecutive winning season. But the Patriots dropped three games by a touchdown or less.
Both units clicked in the season opener. The defense allowed only two scores while the offense was balanced with more than 500 total yards.
“Fort Dorchester is a very athletic, good football team,” Carolina Forest coach Drew Hummel told reporters after the game. “They are a Big 16 team and probably one of the top teams that we’ll play all year.”
Patriots quarterback Baptiste Staggers completed 7 of 11 pass attempts for 175 yards and two touchdowns in his first varsity start. Staggers completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Palmer and a 41-yard pass to Smith for another score. Smith finished with 132 yards in receptions.
Staggers added 66 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns. Fort Dorchester’s Daitwan Commodore ran well, leading the way with 166 yards on the ground, including a 92-yard TD.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil.