As he begins his third season as head coach, Northwood Academy coach Phil Keefe says the 2014 Chargers have the potential to contend for a state title in the SCISA Class AA ranks.
2013: 8-4 overall, 2-2 in SCISA 1-AA
Coach: Phillip Keefe (third season)
Returning Starters: 15 (7 offense, 8 defense)
Players to watch: QB Will Lloyd, WR D.J. Dwight, DE Trevor McNeil, DB Cameron Roberts
He admits that a lot of things must come together, but he feels confident that the talent level and experience can make a difference. The Chargers went from two wins in 2012 to eight wins last season and Keefe sees more progress on the horizon.
"I feel like we have a chance to be as good as we have been in several years," said Keefe. "I like the experience we have coming back. We have some guys who have been in the program for a few years now and they know what is expected. Hopefully, if we can stay healthy, we can be a pretty good football team."
The Chargers have one of the more experienced quarterbacks in SCISA returning as senior Will Lloyd returns for his fourth season as the starter. Lloyd passed for 2,026 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, while adding nearly 500 yards on the ground.
"He took a lot of lumps early on in his career but he has steadily improved each year," says Keefe. "His experience is going to be a big factor this season. He has had a good summer and he seems ready to lead this football team."
Senior D.J. Dwight is the team's top athlete. Dwight led the Chargers in receiving last year with 43 grabs for 890 yards. Senior Tre Stuckey and junior Trevor McNeil will handle most of the running game while freshman DeAngelo Knight will be an impact player at running back or receiver this season, according to Keefe.
Junior center Zach Ellison, a third-year starter, anchors a solid offensive line.
The Chargers return eight starters defensively, led by McNeil (63 tackles in 2013) and senior linebacker Dalton Kolodziej. Sophomore defensive back Cameron Roberts was an all-region pick as a freshman.
Northwood will open its new home stadium this season, hosting Hilton Head Christian.