This time the battle will be in Gators’ territory.
For the second consecutive year, Ashley Ridge will open its football season against Goose Creek. Last year, the Swamp Foxes opened with a 30-13 home victory over the Gators. However, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23 Ashley Ridge travels to Goose Creek for the rematch.
The Swamp Foxes will face a team some speculate has improved considerably since last season, when the Gators finished with a 4-6 record. That was the first season for Goose Creek under the guidance of head coach Jason Winstead, who before coming to the Lowcountry helped South Pointe claim multiple state championships.
“Coach Winstead is in his second year there so he and his staff will be a lot more comfortable in what they do,” Ashley Ridge coach Kenny Walker said. “Their quarterback returns and he can run as well as throw. I think they return quite a few starters on their offensive line so that will be a challenge.”
Winstead was the defensive coordinator at South Pointe. The Gators return their back seven from last season and that group is expected to be strong.
“Defensively they have good players at each level,” Walker said. “Overall I think they will be more experienced and they always play physical so it will be a good test for us.”
Gators safety Devante Pryor returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown during Friday’s Moncks Corner Lions Club football jamboree so Ashley Ridge would be wise to pay attention to where he lines up this Friday. Gator QB Emmanuel Mukuamu has an experienced target in returning wide out Damon Mouzon so Ashley Ridge will likely face a balanced offensive attack.
In the 2018 game between the teams, both Goose Creek touchdowns came on passes from Makuamu to Mouzon. Ashley Ridge scored with a field goal, two runs, an 82-yard kickoff return and an interception that was returned into the end zone. However, four of the five players who scored for the Swamp Foxes in that game graduated last spring.
QB Matt Duncan, who scored on a 1-yard run, is back for the 2019 season. He is known more for his throwing arm, but the senior has demonstrated he can pick up yards on the ground.
Duncan has an experienced line in front of him and some running backs who show promise joining him this season. If the Swamp Foxes can keep the Gators out of the offensive backfield things should go well for Ashley Ridge.
Defensively the Swamp Foxes should be able to match the Gators’ speed, but will have to execute when it comes to tackling and avoid mental mistakes.