I've got a feeling that it's going to be a good season for Lowcountry football teams. While we won't know for sure until December, we should have three teams contending for state championships at the High School League level: Summerville in Division I-AAAA, Goose Creek in Division II-AAAA and Berkeley in Class AAA. Porter-Gaud coach Rick Reetz will tell you his team has a long way to go, but the Cyclones seem to have the muscle and mettle to contend for a SCISA state title.
Who is No. 1 in the Lowcountry? Here's one man's opinion.
1. Goose Creek: The Gators came within a couple of plays of beating eventual state champ Berkeley in a Division II-AAAA state semifinal last year. This fall, the Gators could reach the title game if the defense matures at an expected rate.
Brandon Shell anchors a huge line that will allow the Gators to churn and burn defenses with a brutal running game. The offense has eight starters back, including QB Jauquan Marsh. Running backs Virgil Smalls and Mike Myers are workhorses.
Circle the calendar and the wagons for Sept. 10 when the Gators battle Summerville.
2. Summerville: Coach John McKissick begins his 59th season with 576 career victories, and there's no reason he can't add 12 more by the time the curtain falls on the season.
The offense is loaded with QB Dalton Saunders, RB De'angelo Henderson and swift wide receivers Chris Williams and Cody Reese.
The defense is green for now, but there's always talent in Summerville, even if it's inexperienced.
3. Berkeley: The Stags lost once-in-a-lifetime players in QB Bruce Ellington and RB R.J. Robinson. But you're born to play football in Moncks Corner, and there's still talent galore with 11 starters back.
The defensive line is one of the best in the state with Jamichael Beckford, Ryan Locklear and Jarrell Shine heading up a 4-3 formation.
The Stags won the Division II-AAAA state title last fall and compete at the Class AAA level for at least the next two years.
4. Timberland: The Wolves are always in the hunt for the Class AA state championship, and this year should be no exception if the Wolves can survive life without QB Cody Craig. Unieek Gourdine will be his replacement.
Running backs Byron Mayes and Daquan Lucas form one of the fastest backfields in the state for coach Art Craig, who owns a 47-4 record the past two years.
The Sept. 10 game against Berkeley will serve as the barometer of 2010.
5. Fort Dorchester: The Fort always has talent, and this year, some of the best talent can be found in the freshman and sophomore classes.
Quarterback Ethan Long has a year's experience under his belt, and the linebacking crew is the strength on defense.
Here's a name to remember: David Ghovan. He is a 6-0, 190-pound linebacker who is one of two freshmen on the roster.
6. Stratford: The Knights were one of the two or three elite programs in the state from 1996-2006 with a 118-18 record. The Knights slumped for two seasons, but rebounded with a 7-5 record last fall.
The team has nine starters back and freshman quarterback Jacob Park has been impressive.
7. Beaufort: The Eagles went 7-5 last fall, and eight starters return on defense.
The running backs are stable and quarterback Beau Brown could have a breakout season after passing for nearly 1,000 yards last fall.
8. Woodland: Quarterback Robert Smith returns for his senior season, and should lead the Wolverines to their second region title in three years. The team returns 12 starters and has a good senior leadership.
Woodland meets Hanahan on Oct. 29 in a game that should decide the Region 6-AA championship.
9. James Island: The Trojans have been mentioned as a top 20 team in Class AAAA, and the they have some good weapons, if not depth, to compete against much larger schools.
Quarterback Bo Patterson is a great athlete, as is running back Justin Bolus, who will have key roles on both sides of the ball.
The Trojans have nine starters back from a team that went 4-9 last fall.
10. Porter-Gaud: Coach Reetz has some good-sized players on the line and some special skill players, headed by Stanton Seckinger, a 6-5 wide receiver with major- college talent.
QB Hudson Worthy is another one of the 15 starters back from last year's team that went 5-6. Lineman Colin O'Donnell is a SCISA monster at 6-5, 280 pounds.
Reach Philip M. Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 937-5592.