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Gators wrap up successful football season

Kenny Johnson

Goose Creek junior running back Kenny Johnson breaks loose for a big run in a playoff victory against Summerville.

The Goose Creek Gators won seven football games this season, including all four Region 7-AAAAA contests.

The Gators reeled in their third straight region title and won a playoff game before falling to Lexington in the second round.

“All in all it was a really good year,” Gators coach Jason Winstead said. “You want to win the region and get some home playoff games and this team was able to do that. Like everybody else we’d like to still be playing so it’s disappointing the season is over.”

The game was the last for 19 seniors, including most of the offensive weapons. Among the group moving on are offensive lineman Jayden Johnson, a Shrine Bowl pick, and running back Demetri Simmons, the two-time Region 7-AAAAA player of the year.

Simmons rushed for 1,873 yards and 24 touchdowns and hauled in 20 passes for 407 yards and four scores.

Senior receivers Khyon Smith and James Levine move on, too. Smith caught 50 passes for 1,080 yards and 15 scores, and Levine made 41 grabs for 610 yards and six touchdowns.

Quarterback Drew Moore can return, though, after passing for 2,552 yards and 27 touchdowns. He completed better than 57 percent (164 of 285). He'll be a three-year starter next fall.

“You can’t measure what these seniors did,” Winstead said. “A lot of them were directly responsible for two of the region championships and some of them were part of the first one.”

Replacing seniors is all part of it for Winstead, who just finished his 26th year on the sideline.

“You know they’ve got to move on and grow up and it’s your job to replace them,” he said “Our expectation is to win with the players we have. That’s always our goal.”

As for 2022, the Gators bring back several key contributors on both sides of the ball.

“I’ve already told them the goal is to win the region again,” Winstead said. “I like what we have coming back. I don’t know if we’ll be favored to win the region. It may take us some time on offense but that’s what non-region games are for. It’s kind of like this year for the defense. We got better gradually as the year went on.”