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First Baptist running back Michel Dukes has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in the last two seasons, leading the Hurricanes to consecutive SCISA AA state championships. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

As the first day of high school football practice approaches, The Post and Courier continues its look at the top players in the Lowcountry.

This week the focus is on running backs. While the 2017 season could be deemed as the year of the quarterback in the area, 2018 looks to be the year of the running back.

The Lowcountry boasts two of the state’s top running backs this fall, led by senior Michel Dukes of First Baptist. Though he plays at the SCISA (private school) level, Dukes’ abilities cannot be questioned. The 5-10, 190-pounder has garnered more than a dozen college offers, including South Carolina, Wake Forest, East Carolina, Oregon, North Carolina, Arkansas and Virginia Tech.

Dukes has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in the last two seasons, leading the Hurricanes to consecutive SCISA AA state championships. The Hurricanes move up in classification this fall, climbing to the AAA ranks.

Also at the top of the list is Berkeley’s Keyshawn Wicks, who rushed for 2,034 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall. The 6-0, 185-pound senior transferred to Berkeley from Stall and helped the Stags to a 12-2 record.

Wicks received several offers during the spring and ended his recruiting two weeks ago with a verbal commitment to Old Dominion.

“He’s the real deal,” Berkeley head coach Randy Robinson said. “He’s a strong runner with some wiggle and he can go when he gets out in the open field.”

A pair of juniors will likely put up big numbers for their respective teams this season. Stratford’s Mario Anderson topped 1,200 yards and averaged 7.3 yards per carry as a sophomore. Anderson has been clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash this summer.

Fort Dorchester’s Khalil Jenkins is looking to become the staple back for the Patriots this season. As a sophomore, Jenkins shared carries with other backs but managed to rush for more than 700 yards.

Ashley Ridge’s Nick Cunningham rounds out the top five list for the 2018 season. As a junior, Cunningham rushed for 1,114 yards, scoring 14 touchdowns. He joins quarterback Matt Duncan in one of the area’s top offenses this season.

Berkeley’s Chisolm pledges to East Carolina

Berkeley athlete D.J. Chisolm, The Post and Courier’s Lowcountry athlete of the year for 2017-18, ended his college recruiting last week with a verbal commitment to East Carolina. He had held nearly a dozen offers from FCS and FBS schools.

Chisolm is a receiver who also excels in the return game. Last season, the 5-9, 160-pounder with 4.3 speed, set school records in receptions (69) and yards (1,113). He caught 13 touchdown passes and returned three punts for touchdowns.

Mullins tabbed as head coach at Colleton County

Goose Creek assistant Matthew Mullins has been named the head varsity boys basketball coach at Colleton County. Mullins spent the last four years in the Goose Creek program, serving as the head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach to Blake Hall.

Mullins, a graduate of First Baptist, also served a stint as an assistant at his alma mater before going to Goose Creek. He replaces Jacob Smith, who left Colleton County to become head coach at Fort Dorchester.