The Patriots are being thrown right into the fire this football season.
Fort Dorchester kicks off its 2014 campaign with a game at South Florence, which is ranked the fifth best Class AAAA team in the state in the S.C. Prep Media Football Poll.
“We are going to have to be prepared and play one of our better games,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “I feel they are probably one of the three best teams we will play this year. Hopefully we will get after it and represent our region well.”
The Bruins finished last season with a 12-1 record. Their sole loss was in the second round of the playoffs.
The team returns seven starters on offense, including quarterback Nick Jones, and six on defense.
“South Florence is a good ball club,” LaPrad said. “They are very good offensively. They throw the ball wall and are quick. They like to play at a fast pace.”
The good news for LaPrad is the Bruins don’t have many starters back on the offensive line and they lost one of their best athletes from last season as wide receiver Tabari Hines transferred to Marlboro County.
The Patriots defensive line returned intact this season and is led by hot college prospect Eurndraus Bryant so the Fort may have the upper hand in the trenches. The entire Patriots secondary also returned.
Offensively the Patriots are strong up front and returned quarterback Kobe Garrett. Fresh offensive skills players finished the Patriots’ preseason scrimmage series strong last week. If their performance against James Island is any indication, the Fort should be able to move the ball Friday.
Fort Dorchester is coming off a 7-5 season. The Patriots made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round by eventual state champion Dutch Fork.