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High School Football Focus: Ashley Ridge trio tops Charleston-area linebackers

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Ashley Ridge's T.J. Wilson (7) is one of the top linebackers in the Lowcountry this season. 

As we prepare for the start of the 2022 high school football season, this is the seventh in a series of position breakdowns, highlighting the top players in the Lowcountry. This installment features the top linebackers in the area.

There is no shortage of hard-hitting linebackers in the Lowcountry in 2022. In fact, it may be the deepest of all positions in the area this high school football season. 

No team in the area has a better set of linebackers this than Ashley Ridge. It’s a safe bet that coach Shane Fidler’s three senior linebackers will earn a chance to play at the collegiate level.

In the middle of the action is TJ Wilson, who will a fourth-year starter for the Swamp Foxes and enters this season with nearly 300 career tackles.

Joining him at the second level are Christian Garland and Alex Ledford. Garland is one of the state’s top wrestlers and checks in at 6-3 and 220pounds. Ledford is the quickest of the trio.

Arguably the top linebacker in the area this fall is Timberland High senior Omari Jenkins, who holds an early offer from Georgia State. Jenkins also is a fourth-year varsity starter and has topped 300 career tackles.

Recognized as one of the more physical hitters in the area is Cane Bay senior Cameron Avery, who packs a wallop at 6-0, 225 pounds. He will be a third-year starter for the Cobras and was an All-Lowcountry pick last season.

Joining Avery is returning outside backer Ben Newton.

Goose Creek will push for having the best linebacker tandem in the area. Returning senior Aaron Bryant (6-1, 210) is a leader in the middle and an all-region pick in 2021. Junior Kaine Moses (6-0, 195) is a transfer from First Baptist where he was a two-year starter and a SCISA all-state pick last fall.

Wando also has two linebackers who should make a lot of plays in seniors Mikey Rosa and Landon Berryfor. Rosa, who plays inside, tallied 77.5 tackles last season.

Stratford’s Tory Gethers, a 6-0, 197-pound senior, could be a two-way performer for the Knights. He will likely see most of his time at linebacker, but may get carries at running back as well. Junior Tre Davis (6-4, 210) also returns as a key defender on the outside.

Baptist Hill’s defense will be led by returning starters Savion Gardner and O’Marion Waring, while Hanahan junior Kayden Gaddist is the top returning defender for Hawks coach Art Craig.

Fort Dorchester lost all three starting linebackers from last year and coach Steve LaPrad moved the team’s leading rusher, senior Michael Smalls, to linebacker this fall. Smalls, a strong 195-pounder, showed physicality as a running back so moving to defense is likely a good move.

Summerville’s Steve Simpkins, Jr., will be a player to watch on the Green Wave defense, while Porter-Gaud linebacker Zihaire Jackson will be one of the top performers on the SCISA level this season. Jack Mullen is expected to be a leader for the Bishop England defense.