High School Football

Ford cousins excited to be teammates at Shrine Bowl

ccox@islandpacket.comDecember 21, 2013 

Hilton Head Island High School's Poona Ford, left, hands the ball off to K.J. Ford of Bluffton High School during practice for the 77th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Dec. 17, 2013, in Spartanburg. Bluffton's Ford has decided to play college football at James Madison.


K.J. Ford has an idea of how he wants his Shrine Bowl experience to come to a close.

The Bluffton defensive lineman envisions a North Carolina quarterback dropping back to pass, only to find a pair of Fords coming at him from both ends.

He and his cousin, Hilton Head Island High's Poona Ford, have spent the last week of practice on opposite ends of the line, as the South Carolina team continued preparations for Saturday's 77th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, which kicks off at 1 p.m. in Spartanburg's Gibbs Stadium.

The cousins plan on showcasing their abilities in full force.

"I've never gotten to experience it, so it's something new, it's something different," he said. "I feel like we're going to dominate whenever we get in."

The Fords took significantly different paths to their final high school football appearances.

It's been a parade season for Poona, who committed to Louisville before the season began. And despite drawing added attention from opposing linemen, the Seahawks standout finished with 154 tackles, 44 for loss and 10 sacks. His performance earned him not only a spot in Saturday's Shrine Bowl, but an invitation to the Los Angeles-based Semper Fi All-American Bowl in January.

K.J. struggled to equal that success, as a hand injury forced him to miss almost half of Bluffton's games. But the senior still managed to put up respectable numbers, as he finished with 44 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

He hopes his performance in the Shrine Bowl will enhance his chances at playing on the next level.

"I haven't really talked to (college) coaches," he said, "but my defensive line coach said they've been asking about me."

It would seem both have something to prove.

Poona did not begin Monday's practice with the first-team line, a move the high-profile recruit felt slighted by. He quickly responded with a pair of sacks before being elevated to starter.

"I was kind of (ticked) off," he said. "I've never really come off the bench before."

Both will be playing defensive end for South Carolina's 3-4 defense, a position K.J. became acquainted with this year in the Bobcats' three-man front. It will be a new venture for Poona, though he did play the position some during Hilton Head High's 33-32 win over Bluffton, he noted.

"I already know I can go out there and do it," he said.

Where they play means little to the Fords, just so long as they are able to line up on the South Carolina line together, an opportunity they never had growing up.

"We've always wanted to play on the same team," Poona said.

77th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas

Who: N.C. Tarheels vs. S.C. Sandlappers

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Gibbs Stadium, Spartanburg

Last year: S.C. won 23-19

Series history: S.C. leads 42-30-4

Area Shrine Bowl selections since 2000

2013: DL Poona Ford, Hilton Head Island; DL K.J. Ford, Bluffton

2012: QB Michael Julian, Hilton Head Island

2011: WR Eric Boyles, Bluffton; LB Michael Grant, Bluffton; DL Wesley Scott, Ridgeland

2009: LB Justin Parker, Beaufort

2008: DB Jimmy Legree, Beaufort

2007: LB Brandon Mattis, Beaufort; LB Devin Taylor, Beaufort

2003: WR Tremel Kline, Battery Creek

2002: WR Eddie Cohen, Hilton Head Island

2001: LB Antonio Williams, Battery Creek

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