Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Patriots’ football team should get an indication of how good its defense is this week.
Fort Dorchester makes the trip to the Myrtle Beach area Friday to take on Carolina Forest in the Patriots’ 2012 season opener.
“This is the first time we have played them and it should be a good test for us,” Patriot coach Steve LaPrad said. “They have some good coaches, run a spread and have the top running back in the state. We better play some good defense.”
Harold Atkinson (6-1, 205) is the rusher LaPrad is concerned with. After carrying for 1,523 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, the junior is drawing major D-1 interest from schools including South Carolina, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
But Atkinson isn’t the Panthers’ only weapon. Quarterback Danny Daly is experienced and led Carolina Forest to victory during Myrtle Beach's 4th of July Shootout 7-on-7 competition this summer. Receiver Jarvez Holmes put up impressive numbers during the competition while Atkinson and receiver Darren Williams also proved they can contribute to the passing game.
The Panthers are coming off a 7-5 season and have some talented players returning on both sides of the ball.
Fort Dorchester also went 7-5 last year. The Patriots return two solid running backs in Charles Loftland and Daitwan Commodore, who combined for nearly 1,600 rushing yards and eight touchdowns last season.
The Pats also had a good 7-on-7 season this summer. T.J. Smith returns as the winner of the Patriots’ 2011 Iron Patriot Award. Last season, the receiver made 61 catches for 939 yards and nine TDs. Tevin Morris presents a big target for Patriots QB Baptiste Staggers and Rashad Palmer has a lot of speed on the outside.
The Fort’s defense should be a little tougher in Week 1 than it was in the preseason since senior Roderick Davis (6-1, 330) returns to the line after being out with an arm injury. With him back, the Patriots’ D-line will weigh-in at more than 700 pounds.
The Pats also have some experienced linebackers, but their secondary is largely untested.