High Schools

Prep Notebook, Jan. 24: Bluffton's Ford going to James Madison

sports@islandpacket.comJanuary 24, 2014 

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.

TIM KIMZEY -- SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL

K.J. Ford has found a home.

The Bluffton High School defensive tackle committed to James Madison last weekend, capping his senior season on a high note after on-field struggles.

Ford missed out on several games this season with a hand injury, but still rebounded to finish with 44 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. His efforts were enough, however, to land him a spot on the Shrine Bowl roster and a place on the Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette all-area second team.

"They're real excited," Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said of the Dukes. "They think K.J. is a top defensive line prospect coming in."

Ford will play for new James Madison coach Everett Withers, who joins the Dukes after a two-year run as the Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. The FCS team, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference, finished 6-6 in 2013.

HHH'S LEWIS HAVING FINE FRESHMAN SEASON

Former Hilton Head Island High wrestler Label Lewis is ranked No. 7 in the 133-pound weight class of the NJCAA national rankings.

The 2013 Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette wrestler of the year recently took down two-time Division II All-American Justin Reinsma of Southwest Minnesota State. The 10-4 decision, which came in the Husky Open in mid-December, was Lewis' signature win of the season thus far, Hilton Head High coach Mike Newton said.

His Rochester (Minn.) wrestling team, thanks in part to Lewis' work on the mat, checks in at No. 11 in the national rankings.

BC'S JOHNSON EXCELLING AT SMC

In just his third year in wrestling, Battery Creek graduate DeAndre Johnson is turning heads as a freshman at Spartanburg Methodist College.

Johnson, the S.C. runner-up at 160 pounds in 2013, is 16-5 this season as the Pioneers' starter and a team captain at 157 pounds. His effort has helped SMC (6-3) to just its second winning season.

"He's done an amazing job," SMC coach Rob Sater said. "He's the hardest worker on the team and he's performed far beyond expectations."

The Pioneers went 7-6 last year for their first winning season. With wins in its final two regular-season matches, SMC -- which went five seasons without a dual match victory prior to Sater's arrival three years ago from Boiling Springs High School -- would notch the best season in program history.

And Johnson has played a big part in the Pioneers' success.

"As a starter and team captain in just his third season is outstanding," Sater said. "He's a pleasure to coach and just a great kid."

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