When Summerville quarterback Johnathan Bennett thinks back to the first day of football practice his freshman year, he can only wonder what might have been.
Bennett’s first love was basketball, and he came oh-so-close to making it his only sport. Thanks to his grandmother, however, Bennett is now a Division I quarterback commitment.
“I was 20 minutes from not ever playing football, so looking back on it I am blessed and fortunate that I decided to give football a chance,” Bennett said. “The first practice of my freshman year, I almost didn’t go. If my grandma had not woke me up and forced me to go, things might have turned out very different.”
Now, the 6-1, 210-pound senior has a scholarship offer in hand from Liberty University.
Bennett ended up starting games as a freshman and has been the guy in the shotgun formation ever since. He had his best season last year, passing for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 769 yards and 8 scores.
“It’s been a hard process, going through the development as a quarterback,” Bennett said. “I just try to focus on getting better every day and making sure I am being a leader on and off the field.
“I don’t pay attention to what other people say. I know the abilities I have in me and Liberty knows my abilities. They have the confidence in me and I just do what I do.”
Summerville head coach Joe Call, himself a former quarterback at the school, says Bennett has barely tapped into his potential.
“No doubt, his best football is ahead of him,” Call said. “Seeing the progress he has made over the years has been fun to watch. He used to be a great athlete playing quarterback. Now he’s becoming a great quarterback who happens to be a great athlete too. He is always watching film. He’s a sponge. And, he’s a tremendous leader on our football team. He bleeds the green and gold.”
Call hired a new offensive coordinator for this season. Hunter Spivey is also a former quarterback with college coaching experience and worked with Bennett over the summer.
“Coach Spivey knows a lot of football and he’s never satisfied so he’s always pushing me to do better,” Bennett said.
Bennett’s goal this season is to lead Summerville to a state championship. The Green Wave will certainly be one of the teams in the Class AAAAA mix.
“I am excited about this season,” he said. “I believe we can be in Columbia in December playing for a state championship. We have bought in and put in the work. I truly believe we can be playing for a state championship.
“We haven’t won a state championship in 20 years. We want to be that team that changes that. Our goal is to win a state championship. It’s not pressure to win because at the end of the day, it’s just football. We want to play hard and have fun. The winning takes care of itself.”
Summerville lost its season-opener last weekend against Cedar Grove High School from Atlanta. The Green Wave are at home Friday night against Wando.
FRIDAY'S KEY MATCHUPS
Cane Bay (0-1) at Fort Dorchester (1-0)
Coaches: Steve LaPrad, Fort Dorchester; Russell Zehr, Cane Bay
Players to watch: QB Elijah Bey, Cane Bay; LB De Francis, Cane Bay; RB Kalil Jenkins, Fort Dorchester; LB Davon Gilmore, Fort Dorchester
Notes: Fort Dorchester opened the season with an impressive win at Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Georgia …Cane Bay lost its opener to West Ashley … Last time the two teams met, Fort Dorchester won, 34-33, on their way to a perfect 15-0 season and AAAA Division I state title.
Ashley Ridge (1-0) at Berkeley (1-0)
Coaches: Kenny Walker, Ashley Ridge; Randy Robinson, Berkeley
Players to watch: QB Matt Duncan, Ashley Ridge; LB Rhett Butcher, Ashley Ridge; WR DJ Chisolm, Berkeley; DB Trey Morrison, Berkeley.
Notes: This is the first meeting between the two schools … Both opened with easy week wins last week … Game showcases two of the Lowcountry’s top quarterbacks in Matt Duncan of Ashley Ridge and Eric Tuttle of Berkeley.
Wando (0-0) at Summerville (0-1)
Coaches: Jimmy Noonan, Wando; Joe Call, Summerville
Players to watch: LB Justin Pelic, Wando; DL Jaelin Edwards, Wando; QB Johnathan Bennett, Summerville; DL Ben Mitchum, Summerville.
Notes: Summerville lost its opener to Cedar Grove, Georgia, 21-7, last Saturday … Wando has yet to play a game and will open its new stadium next week … Wando has won four of the last six meetings with Summerville … Summerville won last year’s contest, 24-21.