Stratford puts perfect record on line against Ashley Ridge
It’s a big job but someone has to do it. Coaching the Shrine Bowl football team can almost be a full-time job. Throw in coaching at a Class AAAA school and Ray Stackley is putting in almost 80 hours a week.
“This is my 41st phone call of the day,” Stackley said Thursday on a return trip from Columbia for a Shrine Bowl meeting. “It started last March when I was named coach, and I had one month off in July. Then it was back to work. Sixty-five hours a week and now 80 hours. It takes a lot of time and effort to pick the team. And, you can’t cut corners if you want to be fair. I’ve sat through meetings, watched videos and talked to coaches. Picking the team after the sixth week of the season makes it even tougher. But when you sign off on the project, you know you’ve done a good job. It’s worth it.”
Stackley is a stickler for detail and he knows little things can be as important as the big issues. That’s why he is one of the most successful coaches in state history, gaining his 250th career victory last week against a young Fort Dorchester team. He knows you don’t judge a playbook by its cover or a team by its record.
He tells his Knights not to focus on Ashley Ridge’s 1-2 record, but by the talent on hand. The Swamp Foxes host Stackley’s team at 7:30 p.m. today and the Knights’ 3-0 record is on the line against a team that was picked to win the Region 8-AAAA championship.
“It’s an immense challenge,” Stackley said. “This is a great football team. In my opinion they have one of the most talented backfields in the Lowcountry, if not state. They’ve played two very good football teams, and they are well-coached. Kenny Walker has done a great job as the coach. That program has grown up fast since the school opened (five years ago).”
When Cane Bay opened in 2007, Stackley said his Stratford teams lost some depth from the talent pool it had drawn from. From 1997-2006, the Knights went 118-18 and won a state championship. However, from 2007-2010, Stratford went 41-47.
But the Knights rebounded last season, when they opened with three straight wins and finished 9-4.
Jacob Park leads the offense with 701 yards and six touchdowns passing while running back Jamar Stevens is a threat at running or catching the football. Jordan Johnson is a playmaker at wide receiver and has five catches for 246 yards.
But if the Knights are to challenge Goose Creek for city supremacy and the Region 7-AAAA title, the Knights’ defense must continue to come up big.
The secondary has come up with big plays while the linebackers have the ability to run sideline to sideline and make big hits. The linebackers, led by Mike Simmons, Karl Bennett, Cecil Smith and T.J. Deveaux, can pressure the quarterbacks into costly mistakes.
Then there’s defensive lineman Shaw Peace, who has 21 tackles, including four for a loss.
“It’s just a matter of playing 48 minutes of football,” Stackley said of tonight’s game. “Against Fort Dorchester, we had a lull. We were leading 28-7 and then gave up two touchdowns in six minutes. “We let down in our intensity and when you turn it off, it’s hard to turn it back on.”