After back-to-back state championships, the Bishop England football team is trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time in three seasons.
The Bishops owned Division II-AA football in South Carolina during the 2011 and ’12 seasons with 26 victories in 28 games. Their losses came to West Ashley in 2011 and Hanahan last year.
West Ashley had the Bishops’ number last week in a 28-6 victory. Friday, Hanahan comes calling to Cantey Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. showdown in this intense rivalry.
Hanahan is the No. 5 team in the latest statewide media poll of Class AAA teams, while the Bishops check in at No. 4 in Class AA.
“We like challenges. That’s why we play teams like West Ashley and Hanahan,” Bishop England coach John Cantey said. “We play teams like that to help us with region play. But we got exposed last week because of our youth. We have a lot of fixing to do. Hanahan, last week, was as good as I’ve ever seen them.”
The Hawks rolled past Timberland, 41-0, last week. The Hawks limited Timberland to 186 yards and the Hanahan offense rolled for 583 yards behind quarterback Mason Schwerzler, who passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Quan Wade added 201 yards rushing, including a 91-yard TD jaunt.
But sixth-year Hanahan coach Charlie Patterson said his team’s effort was far from perfect.
“I don’t think, after watching the video, that any player or coach felt that way,” he said. “We had some breakdowns in our blocking up front, and we gave up way too many plays. There’s always room for improvement.”
Bishop England lost 14 seniors from the 2011 team and still repeated as state champs last fall. This year, half of the team had to be replaced as the Bishops lost 20 seniors. Patterson said he expects the Bishops to be motivated for the rivalry game.
“It’s a game the players want to be part of,” he said. “Our players know their players, so it’s a game you want to win. But the main thing is we have to worry about how we execute.”
The two schools first played in 1961 with Hanahan winning, 6-0. The Hawks lead the series 21-20. They won 13 straight until 2011 when the Bishops posted a 49-35 victory en route to their first state championship in school history. Hanahan prevailed, 28-14, last fall.