High school football kicks off around South Carolina this week and here are five story lines to look out for in the Lowcountry this season:
Can May River build on last year’s record season?
It was a season to remember for May River football in 2018.
The Sharks completed an unbeaten regular season, won the Class 8-3A title and made it to the third round of the playoffs before losing to Dillon.
May River returns quarterback Ahamd Green and several key players on defense. One of the biggest questions marks will be replacing tailback Brandon Morales, who rushed for 1,735 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.
Thomas Heyward, Beaufort Academy look to repeat in SCISA
Thomas Heyward and Beaufort Academy won SCISA state championships last year. The Rebels won the SCISA Class A crown and Beaufort Academy won the 8-man title.
Both teams begin the season ranked No. 1 in their classes. The Rebels lost a lot from last season including 1,000-yard rushers Trey Pusha and River Pender. But JR Patterson is back. He rushed for 978 yards despite having his season cut short by injury.
BA returns 10 starters including QB Dawson Coleman.
In SCISA 2A, Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian look to make some noise. HHP finished the season strong and has Stone McDonald back at quarterback.
HHCA also has a talented group back including quarterback Hayden Shinn and receivers Daniel Harrington, JP Peduzzi and Floyd Hargrove.
New faces on sidelines
Beaufort and John Paul II will have new coaches on the sidelines this season.
Bryce Lybrand takes over at Beaufort for Devonte Holloman, who became the new coach at his alma mater South Pointe. Chris Myers replaces Kevin Wald, who guided John Paul II to its first state title appearance last year.
Beaufort has nine starters back and will look to build around tailback John Dagin. John Paul II has to replace several key players including running back Zach Doe, Sam Summa and Melik Frost.
Bluffton looks to depend more on ground game
The Bluffton Bobcats hope to repeat as Region 7-4A champs but might do it a little differently.
The Bobcats look rely on the ground a little more to take pressure off quarterback Lee Kirkland’s arm.
Kylan Simmons and Jordan Murray look to carry the offensive load for the Bobcats, who return an experienced offensive line.
Talented secondary ahead for Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island has two of the area’s top college prospects in safety Cole DeMarzo and cornerback Christian Miller.
Demarzo committed to Michigan State earlier this month and had 70 tackles and two interceptions. Miller has narrowed his final five schools to Toledo, Liberty, Florida International Colorado State and Indiana.
The Seahawks are coming off a 4-7 season last year but should contend with Bluffton and Beaufort for region title.
Beaufort at AC Flora
Hilton Head Christian at Thomas Heyward
John Paul II at Cardinal Newman
Marlboro County at Ridgeland-Hardeeville
May River at Memorial Day (Ga.)
Memorial Day at Hilton Head Prep
Savannah at Hilton Head Island
Screven County (Ga) at Bluffton
Whale Branch at Battery Creek