Patriots are eager to start new season

Quarterback Aaron Wellborn pitches to a running back during practice Friday.

A day that couldn’t get here soon enough for many Fort Dorchester athletes and coaches finally arrived.

Like many other schools across the state, Fort Dorchester opened football practice Aug. 2.

“The first day is always exciting,” Fort Dorchester quarterback De’Andrae Sabb said. “Emotions are high because everyone is ready to get back on the field. We are ready to go out there and have each other’s back and just play some football.”

Fort players had to settle for competing against each other for the first few days of practice but starting this week they are allowed to put on full pads and scrimmage teams from other schools.

The Patriots will host Sumter for a scrimmage at 9 a.m. Aug. 12. The Patriots will participate in the Dorchester County Showdown jamboree the evening of Aug. 16 and are scheduled to open their 2019 season at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23 by hosting Glynn Academy of Georgia.

Fort Dorchester is considered one of the top contenders for the Region 8-AAAAA crown this season. Last year, the Patriots finished with a 9-3 record after advancing to the second round of the playoffs. It should be noted, however, that one of the losses was a forfeit to Glynn Academy and another was double-overtime loss to Summerville.

Fort Dorchester returns a more experienced team in 2019 than it did in 2018 when it opened practice with only four true returning starters.

Sabb is a rising senior who started in all 12 games last season and he has some promising young players backing him up. Running back Kalil Jenkins also returns after rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a junior. The Patriots don’t return all of their best receivers from last season but do return some and have good depth at that position.

“We have some really good guys on the offensive line, some guys who are returning, but we do need a couple new faces up there,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “We have about six guys competing for those spots so I think once we get that taken care of if we can avoid injuries we will be ok.”

Fort Dorchester also has experience across the second and third tiers of its defense. Linebacker Darryle Ware returns and continues to draw a lot of interest from college scouts. The Patriots also have some linemen drawing major interest from colleges.

“Our expectations are high,” LaPrad said. “The kids are very hungry this year because they fell short of some of their goals last year.”