Thursday, August 29, 2013
For Ashley Ridge, Week 1 of the 2013 football season brings one the toughest tests the Swamp Foxes will face all year.
Ashley Ridge opens its 2013 campaign at 7:30 p.m. Friday by hosting Goose Creek. The Gators have come out on top, scoreboard wise, in 40 of their last 42 games. However, last year Goose Creek was made to forfeit 10 games by the South Carolina High School League for dressing an ineligible player.
Even if the Ashley Ridge game is one of the forfeits, it doesn’t change the fact that Goose Creek has owned Ashley Ridge on the gridiron. The Gators earned a 56-3 win in the first meeting, a 65-3 win in the second meeting and came out on top 48-16 last season.
Ashley Ridge coach Kenny Walker says in order for things to be any different this year, his team has to get its offense going early.
“Our offense hasn’t been able to score touchdowns against Goose Creek,” Walker said. “You can’t win against good teams if you can’t put the ball in the end zone.”
Ashley Ridge’s only offensive touchdown in the series came last year when Romelo Doctor had a 62-yard rushing score. Doctor graduated, but so did three Goose Creek defensive players with Division-1 talent.
However, coaches aren’t convinced the departure of last year’s senior class is going to change things drastically.
“It will still be tough,” Walker said. “They lost some guys but they have other guys this year that are going to be just as good. The thing is we get down so quick against them. If we could just stalemate things a bit until we get into the game it could make a difference. The last two years against them things just started to snowball. They go up and then we make a bad snap and then they block a punt. But we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Goose Creek coaches aren’t taking anything for granted either.
“Ashley Ridge tries to spread you out and get you in a position where you’ve got to tackle in space and that’s been a point of concern for us,” Gators defensive coordinator Chris Candor said. “We have been inconsistent (over the summer). They did lose some of their key guys, but it looks like they have some capable replacements.”
Receiver Tramel Terry, arguably the Gators best athlete last season, is also gone. But stopping the Gators will still be a tough task.
Georgia Tech commitment Caleb Kinlaw is back for Goose Creek and junior quarterback Dantez Bennamon is another shifty weapon. Also, Deondre Daniels did an admirable job at Terry’s old spot during this year’s Sertoma Football Classic.
“Offensively, this is the best preseason we’ve had since I’ve been here,” GCHS coach Chuck Reedy said. “Defensively, we’re still getting everything sorted out. I think it’s a group that will get better as the season goes on.”
Ashley Ridge has three seasons as a Class AAAA team under its belt and Walker says his team is getting acclimated.
“We are still a young 4-A school trying to catch up with all these other schools that have competed at that level for 30 or 40 years,” Walker said. “Sometimes you feel like you are trying to catch up all in one year and you have to remember you just can’t do that. We are making changes that might seem minimal, but they are big to us. We have more of an identity. The last few years we were just surviving and getting kids ready for a 4-A schedule but now it is time to start establishing what we want to do as far as the team foundation.”
This summer the team reorganized its weight-lifting program to ensure its top athletes were benefiting. Other changes for this season include a new helmet logo and the creation of a players’ manuel that everyone on the team received.
“We have a new focus and I’m excited about that,” Walker said. “We are trying to get the selfish players out and get the team players in. A lot of things are moving in a positive direction for us. Kids know they are going to be held more accountable. We have character traits we ask them to live by not just when they are with the team but at school as well. Players are buying into it and I think it will make a difference.”
Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or firstname.lastname@example.org