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Fort Dorchester is the heavy favorite in Region 8-AAAAA this season. File/Wade Spees/Staff

It's difficult to imagine, but Fort Dorchester football coach Steve LaPrad says this year's team is deeper and possibly more talented overall than the 2015 squad that went 15-0 and won the Class AAAA state championship.

It remains to be seen if the Patriots can duplicate the achievements of 2015, but there is little doubt that Fort Dorchester is the top team in Region 8-AAAAA this season.

Summerville won the region last year, but that team featured 14 players who are now playing college football. The Green Wave may need a few games to put things together, but still should be competitive.

Ashley Ridge will again be solid offensively with a veteran quarterback returning, while West Ashley (with a new coach) and Stall have the most work to do if they hope to crack the top three.

Ashley Ridge

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Ashley Ridge quarterback Matthew Duncan is back for his fourth year as a starter. Roger Lee/Journal Scene

COACH: Kenny Walker

2018 RECORD: 5-6

WHAT TO KNOW: Matthew Duncan returns as a fourth-year starter at quarterback and will lead an offense with former West Ashley head coach Bobby Marion calling the plays ... Duncan, who is committed to play at Temple, threw for more than 1,600 yards as a junior ... The offensive line, anchored by senior Kamryn Petrick, is a strength and Marion hopes to have a solid running game as well ... The Swamp Foxes lost several key contributors on defense, and will look to returners Latrell Jefferson-York and Jerren Strickland in the secondary to be leaders.

Fort Dorchester

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Fort Dorchester's De'Andrae Sabb (9) tries to break free from the Berkeley defense during a game last season. Brad Nettles/Staff

COACH: Steve LaPrad

2018 RECORD: 9-3

WHAT TO KNOW: Nine wins is considered a disappointment around Fort Dorchester, but this year’s team should top that number ... Senior DeAndrae Sabb returns at quarterback, but will also be used in other ways out of the backfield, leaving some playing time for freshman Zolten Osborne ... Senior Kalil Jenkins returns as the primary running back, and the Patriots have a bevy of receivers competing for time on the field ... Senior end Emmanuel Johnson and senior tackle Brandon Johnson anchor a strong defensive front, while Darryle Ware is a third-year starter at linebacker ... Senior Jyheim Wilson and junior Khalid Gadson lead a deep and talented secondary.

Stall

COACH: Joe Bessinger

2018 RECORD: 0-9

WHAT TO KNOW: The Warriors failed to win a game last season, but Bessinger has 11 returning starters this fall ... The receiving corps is a strength, led by sophomore James Levine ... Seniors Victor Sanchez and Iyon James will lead a young group along the offensive line ... The defensive leader will be senior linebacker Khalil Mack-Gooch ... Senior Lamontae Heatley is a returning starter along the front, but Bessinger worries about a lack of depth.

Summerville

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Summerville lost 14 players, who are now playing college football, from last year's Region 8-AAAAA championship team. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

COACH: Joe Call

2018 RECORD: 11-3

WHAT TO KNOW: Call likes the potential of his team as the Wave gains experience ... Replacing four-year starter Johnathan Bennett at quarterback will be sophomore Colby Shirey ... The strength offensively is the running game, with junior KJ Rollins and a solid offensive line ... Leading the way up front are Adam McKanna and Jackson Campeau ... Senior Brody Hopkins is the top receiver but will miss time early with an injury ... The lone returning full-time starter on defense is senior linebacker Luke Taylor, who had more than 100 tackles last season.

West Ashley

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West Ashley players will take the field under interim coach William Wineberg this season. Lauren Petracca/Staff

COACH: William Wineberg

2018 RECORD: 6-6

WHAT TO KNOW: Wineberg is the interim head coach for 2019 but hopes to secure a permanent position with a good season ... The Wildcats won their first-ever playoff game last season under former coach Bobby Marion ... The 2019 squad has very little experience returning on offense ... Junior Connor Black looks to lead the unit at quarterback, behind an offensive line that returns one full-time starter in Tradd O’Donald ... The defense should be the stronger unit with returning sophomore linebacker Caleb Edwards and returning senior defensive backs Amari Jenkins and Maquel Capers ... Nelson Huggins returns in the kicking game.

Region 8-AAAAA Schedules

Ashley Ridge

Aug. 23 at Goose Creek

Aug. 30 Berkeley

Sept. 6 at Stratford

Sept. 13 Cane Bay

Sept. 20 at James Island

Sept. 27 Wando

Oct. 4 Summerville

Oct. 11 West Ashley

Oct. 25 at Fort Dorchester

Nov. 1 at Stall

Fort Dorchester

Aug. 23 Glynn Academy

Aug. 30 at Cane Bay

Sept. 6 at Viera (FL)

Sept. 13 Wando

Sept. 20 Berkeley

Sept. 27 Goose Creek

Oct. 4 at West Ashley

Oct. 18 Stall

Oct. 25 Ashley Ridge

Nov. 1 at Summerville

Stall

Aug. 23 at Berkeley

Aug. 30 at Stratford

Sept. 6 Wando

Sept. 13 James Island

Sept. 20 at Goose Creek

Sept. 27 Cane Bay

Oct. 11 at Summerville

Oct. 18 Fort Dorchester

Oct. 25 at West Ashley

Nov. 1 Ashley Ridge

Summerville

Aug. 23 at Woodland

Aug. 30 at Wando

Sept. 6 Goose Creek

Sept. 13 Stratford

Sept. 20 at Cane Bay

Sept. 27 at Berkeley

Oct. 4 at Ashley Ridge

Oct. 11 Stall

Oct. 18 West Ashley

Nov. 1 Fort Dorchester

West Ashley

Aug. 23 Cane Bay

Aug. 30 James Island

Sept. 6 at Berkeley

Sept. 13 at Goose Creek

Sept. 20 Wando

Sept. 27 at Stratford

Oct. 4 Fort Dorchester

Oct. 11 at Ashley Ridge

Oct. 18 at Summerville

Oct. 25 Stall

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