High School Preview: Baptist Hill vs. Cross, St. John’s in Region 8-A | Preparation area

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Coach Marion Brown’s Baptist Hill Bobcats appear to be the region’s 8-A class in high school football. As one of the top 10 Class A teams in the state each year, Baptist Hill is the most often the pick to win the region’s championship, regardless of how the region is fielded.

This season, Baptist Hill won’t have to deal with Whale Branch’s usually strong schedule. Whale Branch moved to another region when the SC High School League realigned the regions last spring.

The 8-A region will only have five teams in 2022. Cross and St. John’s are expected to feature heavily, as both programs have strong returning talent and experience. Cross lost to Baptist Hill by just one point last season.

Burke and Military Magnet appear to be in rebuilding mode once again and will be looking to create an upset against the big three.

Baptist Hill

THE HEAD COACH: Marion Brown

RECORD 2021: 8-2

WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW: The Bobcats are one of the most explosive Class A offensive teams every year and that won’t change this season.

The quarterback is back at junior Harold Gathers, now a third-year starter. Rallies threw for more than 2,300 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2021. Receivers Kevin Townsend and Kaleb Brown combined for more than 800 receiving yards a year ago. Zavion Brandling returns as a leader along the offensive line.

Anchoring the defense this fall are linebackers Savion Gardner and Omarion Waring, with Daryl Hill also returning at defensive end. Waring had 114 total tackles last season while Gardner had 74 total hits.

To cross

THE HEAD COACH: Shaun Wright

RECORD 2021: 2-3

WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW: The COVID-19 quarantines significantly affected the 2021 season as Cross only managed five games, only opening the season on September 24.

This year, the opportunity to play a full season is exciting everyone in the program. Senior Amonte McCray, a tri-sport athlete, anchors a strong offensive line. He is joined by Jayden Middleton, Ty Bryant, Caleb Cornell and Jayden Smith.

McCray and Middleton are also regulars on the defensive front. Seniors Damion Haines, Santory Jones, Jalen Simmons and Kriston Moore lead the way at linebacker. Jones is also a key offensive running back. Junior Tyler Mungin won a competitive preseason battle at quarterback, but Wright also believes backup Jerome Thomas can handle the job if called.

St. John’s

THE HEAD COACH: mike howard

RECORD 2021: 3-5

WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW: Howard continues his rebuilding of the Islanders program and the prospects for a winning season in 2022 are good.

Jayden Judge is back as a key two-way performer. The 6-1, 220-pounder will be the primary running back and will also start as a defensive end. Senior Jaiden Morrison brings solid playing experience to quarterback and will anchor the secondary on defense. Senior George Webb returns as a tight end and defensive end, and senior Kenneth Rivers is a defensive leader at linebacker. Look for sophomores Marik Gibbs and Tresean White to be major contributors on both sides of the ball as well.

burk

THE HEAD COACH: Earl Brown, Jr.

RECORD 2021: 2-6

WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW: Returning for a second stint as Burke’s head coach, Earl Brown, Jr., is excited about the growth potential of a program that has struggled in recent years.

Burke, like most Class A programs, is battling a numbers crisis, but the coach likes the attitude and work ethic in the preseason. Among the key returning players is senior quarterback Taivon Snipes, whom Brown calls “a natural leader.” Another great team leader is lineman Ovaurie Polite, who will be a two-way starter. Two promising sophomores are wide receiver Jalen Singleton-Brown and linebacker Shermane Wittrell.

military magnet

THE HEAD COACH: Derrell Pringle

RECORD 2021: 0-8

WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW: The Eagles have only won seven times since 2015. Things could improve this season with the return of a solid core of experienced players. Reginald Pinckney and Khamari Washington are expected to be the main returners up front. Senior Jamaree Waters is a running back and linebacker and Geraldo Washington senior has experience as a receiver and quarterback.

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