St. John's opened the 2013 season, its first under head coach Brad Bowles, with one win in the first four games. However, the Islanders rallied late to win five of their last seven, including a perfect 4-0 mark in Region 6-A.
2013: 6-5 overall, 4-0 in Region 6-A
Coach: Brad Bowles (Second season)
Returning starters: 12 (5 offense, 7 defense)
Players to watch: RB/LB Taiwan Green, DE DeAndre Peterson, OL/DL Tahaj Buncomb
Year two under Bowles shows even more promise as the coach returns 12 starters, including most of what was a very good defense.
"We have a good group of kids that have been very committed during the offseason," said Bowles, a former assistant at Goose Creek. "We have pretty good talent. We have some experience returning and I'm pretty optimistic about our potential. We know nothing comes easy though."
Bowles has a mixture of veteran senior leadership to go with several underclassmen that will be asked to play major roles this fall. The vacated quarterback position will be shared by two underclassmen - sophomore T.J. Givens and junior DejShawn Bailey. Both saw significant action at other positions a year ago.
The option running attack should be solid with the return of seniors Taiwan Green, Jordan Hammond and Michael Rucker. Green doubles up as the team's top linebacker while Hammond is a starter along the defensive line.
Three seniors along the offensive front are left tackle Tahaj Buncomb (6-2, 270), right tackle Tyler Legare (6-0, 255) and left guard Tevin Durham (6-1, 215). Buncomb also starts at defensive tackle.
Sophomore defensive end De'Andre Peterson (6-0, 200) is a key returner defensively, while senior Krevon Lowery returns as a starting linebacker. Bailey and sophomore Caleb Watson were both starters in the secondary a year ago.
"Five or six of these guys will be on the field all of the time so I am hoping to develop some depth as we go through the season," said Bowles. "We have some spots with experience and we also have some spots with some youth."
"Our job is to mesh it all together and try to become the best team we can be."
Bowles says the idea that his team is the region favorite once again is simply conjecture.
"We won last year but this region, with Cross and Baptist Hill, is very competitive every week," the coach said. "We all know we're one key injury away from turning a season upside down. Our goal is to win the region but we know it won't be easy."