Will Knights party like it’s 1999?
Stratford High School fans have every reason to be more than just a tad giddy about the upcoming season. Crowfield Avenue figures to be rocking as the Knights take aim at a state crown.
The Knights are coming off their best season since 2006 and have one of the premier quarterbacks in the country in senior Jacob Park. Stratford last played for a title in 2004 and last won the championship in 1999.
Park (6-4, 205) who combined for nearly 2,700 yards passing and rushing last season was an Elite 11 quarterback this summer. The Georgia commitment is ranked as the No. 1 player in the state by the prep publication High School Sports Report.
“He makes me look like a good coach a lot of times, like I called the right play,” Stratford offensive coordinator Dennie McDaniel said. “He’s got a lot of confidence in what he can do. The other players have confidence in him that he’s going to put the ball where it’s supposed to be.”
Park is part of a senior class that has been looked upon for a number of years as one that could get Stratford back where it used to be. There are a lot of playmakers in the Knights’ 20-man senior class.
“There are some individual kids in this group we’ve had our eyes on for a while,” Stratford coach Ray Stackley said. “This senior class has some guys in it we thought were going to be pretty good. We won’t know how special the group is until the season is over.”
Senior running backs Jordan Johnson and Tyree Scroggins have paid their dues the last couple of years and will be counted on to carry the mail this fall. Johnson was a tight end/flanker last season and is the top pass catcher returning.
“It is time for them to be playmakers,” McDaniel said. “Jordan has moved back to his natural position and we expect a lot of things from him. Tyree was stuck in the depth chart last year but has had a tremendous spring, summer and fall camp. We are hoping he can continue to develop.”
Thad Thompson is the lone senior receiver and is joined in that group by juniors K.J. Givens, Chris Allen and Jameak Jones.
Junior Daniel Carter and senior Jared Terhune are the tight ends.
On the offensive line, junior Michael Hughes is the lone returning starter. Senior Connor Dayton is the only senior and, at 6-3, 315, the biggest lineman. The other projected starters are senior Ja’Avonte Peeples, junior Bryce Smith and sophomore Matt Morris.
On the other side of the ball, the Knights have the makings of a great defense, Stackley said.
“We’ve only got one starter back up front but our perimeter people are pretty dadgum good,” he added.
The group is headlined by senior defensive backs Taylor Morrison and Sheldon Reid. Morrison made 10 interceptions from his free safety spot and Reid added seven interceptions at corner. Senior Dauntae Horton and sophomore Braxton Boykin are the other two defensive backs.
Inside linebacker Cecil Smith and outside linebacker T.J. Deveaux are returning starters on the second level along with Michael Simmons. Other linebackers will be juniors Menre Rice, Navae Daniels and Tyreik Faulks.
Senior Joe Cook is a defensive end with experience along with the other senior defensive end Steven Hill. Senior Jordan McArthur is another end.
On the interior line, junior Rodrigo Hernandez and junior Deondre Williams are starters.
Stratford hosts Berkeley on Aug. 30 to begin the season and travels to Sumter and Fort Dorchester the following two weeks.