When Stratford and Wando take the field Friday night in a Region 7-AAAA showdown, fans will see arguably the top senior quarterback in the state vs. the top junior running back.
It should be an entertaining and interesting night if you are a fan. It could be a long night if you are Stratford coach Ray Stackley or Wando boss Jimmy Noonan.
The quarterback is Stratford’s Jacob Park, who on Tuesday received the jersey he will wear in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. He has passed for 1,974 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
The running back is Wando’s Kenny Waring. He rushed for 208 yards and five touchdowns in a victory over West Ashley last week. For the season, he has 1,007 yards and 13 TDs. He’s averaging 11.3 yards per carry.
Stratford, the No. 4 team in the state, enters the game with a 7-0 record, including 1-0 in the region after a 42-7 victory over Cane Bay. Wando is 3-4, 1-0 after a 38-32 victory over West Ashley.
Noonan has watched video of the Knights and doesn’t see a weakness.
“Obviously, Stratford is a very good football team,” Noonan said. They are very versatile. They throw the ball well. They run the ball well. And, their defense is as solid as ever. They made a deep playoff run last year and are sitting there poised to do the same this year.”
Wando had its most memorable regular season in school history last fall, posting a 10-1 record. That includes a 42-7 victory over the Knights.
But Wando had to regroup after heavy graduation losses .The Warriors have a new quarterback and receivers.
“Kenny is a talented young man.” Noonan said. “But we have a young squad, still trying to find our identity. We had three losses in a row and righted ourselves last week. We have a good hard-working group of players this year. We’re getting better and better.”
Stackley, who is seeking his second state championship at Stratford, said his team knows how dangerous Wando can be after last year’s game.
“You have to be ready anytime you play Wando,” Stackley said. “They are well-coached and have talent. They present problems.”