Old football rivals Stratford, Summerville set for showdown

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Stratford ended a decade’s worth of frustration a year ago when the Knights finally beat Summerville on the football field.

The two teams meet again Friday when the Green Wave travels to Stackley Field for a 7:30 p.m. showdown. The Knights are 5-0 and ranked No. 8 in the latest state poll of Class AAAA teams. Summerville is 4-1

“It seems something is always at stake in the state picture when these two teams play,” Stratford coach Ray Stackley said.

“It’s a great game between two great programs. It involves two great communities that are located side-by-side on Interstate 26.”

Summerville vs. Stratford has always been a special game, and this week’s event is one of two huge Class AAAA matchups involving Lowcountry teams. Friday’s other can’t-miss game features Goose Creek at Beaufort. Both teams are 5-0.

Stratford ended a 10-game losing streak against the Wave last fall and cut the series lead to 20-11 in Summerville’s favor when quarterback Jacob Park completed 12 of 20 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-17 victory. He was injured in the game and Jordan Johnson stepped up late with four carries for 129 yards in the final quarter.

Both players are having notable seasons. Park, who has committed to play for the University of Georgia, has completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,501 yards and 15 touchdowns. Johnson has 281 yards rushing and 177 receiving.

Stackley says his team will be in for a battle and the game will be closer than last year’s 24-point victory.

“They are much better than they were last year,” he said of Summerville.

“They are the most-improved team in the state. They are so much better on defense and their quarterback (Sawyer Bridges) is a much-improved player.”

Bridges, who started as a freshman last fall, has completed nearly 50 percent of his passes for 854 yards and seven touchdowns.

Beaufort is a much-improved team heading into Friday’s home game against Goose Creek. The Eagles managed only a 4-7 record last fall and were on the wrong end of a 65-14 beating at the hands of the Gators.

Goose Creek, the No. 3 team in the latest Class AAAA poll, continues to play on a mission after getting disqualified in the state playoffs in 2012 for using an ineligible player. The Gators picked up their 31st straight victory on the field with a 35-21 victory over No. 4 Dutch Fork.

The Gators are averaging more than 500 yards per game, including 423 on the ground. Four players have at least 200 yards rushing.

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