Monday, August 20, 2012
The 2012 Goose Creek Gators are looking to make their own dent in the school’s trophy case. It’s a mindset the defending champs have to have, forgetting about last year’s golden run to the title.
“The biggest thing that everybody has to understand, starting with us, is that last year’s team is gone,” Gators coach Chuck Reedy said. “That was a very good team that achieved some very special things. This football team has create their own identity.”
The Gators open the season at home on Aug. 24 against Ashley Ridge.
They enter the fall with a bull’s eye on their backs because of last year’s accomplishment but they also have a number of the state’s top players on the roster. Already, they’ve been pegged to repeat without playing a game. The High School Sports Report made the Gators No. 1 in its Class AAAA preseason poll.
Wide receiver/running back Tramel Terry is committed to Georgia and defensive end Gerald Turner is heading to South Carolina. Other uncommitted Gators project as Division I players too.
“Our five, six, seven or eight outstanding players have to play their best football,” Reedy said. “… The other 14 or 15 guys that will be starting for the first time have got to be solid players. They’ve got to play with a lot of effort and play without a lot of mistakes. If they do that, we’ll be a very good football team.”
Terry rushed for 847 yards and caught 44 passes for 833 yards, combining for 16 touchdowns last season.
Junior running back Caleb Kinlaw is a premier player returning as well. He had 1,497 yards and eight touchdowns rushing in 2011.
The duo figures to aid new quarterback Dantez Bennamon in getting adjusted. Bennamon, a junior, only played sparingly last season behind three-year starter Jaquan Marsh.
“My job is just to manage the offense and get the ball into the hands of the guys that can make plays.”
Senior fullbacks Rico Blanding and Rashard Alston figure will get their touches too.
Senior receiver Caleb Holmes will be a target in the passing game.
Up front, the Gators are largely inexperienced. Only left guard Dylan Steele was a full-time starter last season. The other starters on the line are junior left tackle Tyler Hood, sophomore center Kyrice Williams, senior right guard Rodney Garrett and junior right tackle Tre Simmons.
The tight ends are juniors Kalan Ritchie and Evan McField.
Defensively, Turner is a disruptive force up front. Last season, he had over 50 tackles, nine sacks and blocked five kicks. Mike Myers and Bryce Kelly are also seniors on the defensive wall. Defensive tackle DeQuan White is a junior.
Jalen Stevens, another Division I prospect, backs up to take over an inside linebacker spot.
On special teams, rising senior placekicker Masamitsu Ishibashi gives the Gators a very solid weapon. He made 97 extra points last season and converted four field goals.
“The younger players got to experience getting on those buses with a police escort, going over to a hotel, going over to Death Valley, going through the walkthrough… We did everything like a college road game. That experience should be a motivating factor in them wanting to go back. It could motivate them to get in the weight room and do what (the 2011 seniors) did.”
The Gators were hit hard by graduation at linebacker, losing all five second-level players from 2011. Two of their better players there this season, outside linebacker DeShawn Evans and inside linebacker Jalen Stevens, were in the defensive front rotation last season. Both are seniors.
The other linebackers are juniors Shaquille Salley and Daylin Julius.
The secondary is essentially brand new too. Juniors Andre Rhodes and Omar McRae are juniors and free safety Maleik Ravenell is a senior.
On special teams, Masamitsu Ishibashi will handle kicks and punts.
Last season, he made 97 extra points and converted four field goals.