Patriots hope to rebound from tough season
The 2012 football season was one riddled with injury and heartache for Fort Dorchester High School, but the Patriot faithful can take some positive things away from it.
After having some key players move out of the area this summer, the Patriots suffered 13 season-ending injuries this season.
“It was astonishing,” Fort coach Steve LaPrad said. “I've never had a year where we had so many injuries. You go out in our halls and you are going to come across a kid in a cast or on crutches. By our final game of the season we were to the point where if another defensive player were to get hurt we wouldn't have known who to put in to replace him.”
Three defensive ends, two linebackers, two defensive backs, two running backs and an offensive lineman were among the players who suffered injuries that kept them out for all or the majority of the season.
But even with all the injuries to a team that started out largely inexperienced, the Patriots had put themselves in a good position to earn a high playoff seed as the season was winding down. They entered their final regular-season game against Ashley Ridge with above average seeding points but then suffered a 41-20 loss that put them in six-team tie for the final playoff bids for Class AAAA. The Patriots came out on the short end of the tiebreaker rules and missed the playoffs for the first time since LaPrad took over as their head coach.
“We had more points than some of the teams that made the playoffs but the region loss to Ashley Ridge was costly,” LaPrad said. “As coaches we aren't happy with the season, but we knew going in we weren't loaded with talent and really except for the Goose Creek game we were in every game we played. We feel like we let the Stratford and Bluffton games slip away from us and if we hadn't we probably would feel better about things.”
The Patriots finished the season with a 5-6 record and a 2-3 mark in their region. Official word hadn't been sent at press time but if the Fort game is one of several for which Goose Creek played an ineligible player then the Patriots will pick up a forfeit and finish at 6-5.
The Patriots pretty much had their normal success moving the football this season. The Fort rushed for 2,661 yards and passed for 1,318 yards. The Fort yielded 1,356 passing yards, but limited opponents to 1,901 rushing yards.
Moving forward, this year's youth could pay big dividends for the Patriots next season. A lot of Fort underclassmen played this year.
“We will lose some talented skill guys to graduation, but we should have our front seven back on defense,” LaPrad said. “At one time we were starting seven sophomores, but then some of them were injured. Our kids played hard all year and I think they went into each game prepared.”
The Fort will need to stay healthy next season in order to succeed. LaPrad says he also needs to put some work into the school's feeder programs so that young athletes develop an interest in football.
“I think this year every student at our school who should be playing football did, but we don't have the number of talented athletes we once did. We need to beat the bushes some to make sure we get kids in middle school and elementary school involved in sports.”