Patriots hope to find chink in Knights’ armor

  • Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mike Davis and the rest of the Patriot secondary limited the impact of Cane Bay receivers last week but the Fort defensive backs face a tougher task this week against Stratford. ROGER LEE/JOURNAL SCENE

 The Patriots face their toughest test so far this season when the Knights of Stratford roll into town Friday.
Fort Dorchester was strong in a 62-14 win over Carolina Forest in its season opener and a 35-14 win at Cane Bay last week. The Patriots had more than 1,000 yards of offense in those games.
But this week the team faces a Stratford team coming off its best season since 2006 and showing no sign of slowing down. The Knights rolled to a 29-10 victory over Berkeley in Week 1 and to a 42-28 win at Sumter last week.
“They are a good football program,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “Their quarterback is good and I’m sure they have some other weapons. They always have someone who can run the ball. They are also strong on defense. They are a well-balanced ball club so we know we will have to play a little bit better this week.”
Stratford’s Jacob Park, a UGA commit, is regarded by many as the best quarterback in the state. Park has already thrown for more than 550 yards and six touchdowns this season.
He is just one 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 that 20-man senior class.
The Knights only returned one starter from last year’s offensive line, but that hasn’t stopped Park from getting good protection so far. The QB has connected with multiple targets this year.
Last week alone, Stratford had three receivers finish with more than 75 receiving yards. Jordan Johnson and Thad Thompson had nearly 100 yards each and accounted for four touchdowns against Sumter.
Johnson was used mostly as an inside receiver last year, but is lining up more as a running back this year and has done well there.
The Knights also only returned one defensive lineman, but the rest of the Stratford defense has considerable experience.
Senior defensive backs Taylor Morrison and Sheldon Reid combined for 17 interceptions last season.
The Knights also have three starting linebackers returning from the 2012 campaign,
Cecil Smith, T.J. Deveaux and Michael Simmons. Last week they teamed up with defensive end Joe Cook to account for 6.5 sacks.
Against Fort Dorchester last year, Park completed 9 passes for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Knights to a 28-21 victory. The QB and Johnson both rushed for a TD in the game.
However, Fort Dorchester is a more experienced team this season and has shown promise on both sides of the ball. The Patriots’ junior class is highly touted and the team has several seniors with talent.
At Cane Bay last week, the Fort rushed for more than 200 yards and passed for more than 200 yards. Senior QB Kobe Garrett completed 12 of 16 pass attempts including four TD passes. Six different Patriots had a reception in the game.
Garrett, seniors Matt Murray and Nahshon Cyrus and sophomore Datron James give the Patriots several options on the ground. James had more than 250 rushing yards just in the Patriots’ season opener and both Murray and Cyrus have nearly 250 yards for the season.
On defense, the Fort has size and experience at the first two levels but lacks experience in the secondary. The Patriots’ defensive backs have held up well so far, but Park will surely be gunning for them.
Of course, the Patriot front seven will have their sights set on the Stratford QB. How successful they are at pressuring Park could determine who gets the upper hand in this game.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Bagwell Stadium.
Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or rlee@journalscene.com

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