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Bulldogs open the season Friday against Ridgeland - Hardeeville

  • 23 August 2019
  • Author: Dan McNiel
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Bulldogs open the season Friday against Ridgeland - Hardeeville

After the final frustrating seconds ticked off the clock at Myrtle Beach's Doug Shaw Stadium, Marlboro County head coach led his team behind the visitor's stands, looking to get away from the blaring sound system.
His season-ending speech to the team had a different feel than in years past.  Somehow, there was truly a sense of finality to it.  
The "we'll get back to work and beat these guys next year" address didn't have its usual iron-will grit.  The team seemed to perceive it, as did the rest of the coaching staff and fans.
In early February, Boyd announced that he was leaving Marlboro County after 22 years, returning to his hometown of York.
After a two-month search, Lancaster High head coach Bobby Collins was introduced as the new lead Dog.  
With only a couple of weeks to prepare before the start of spring practice, the new coach hardly had time to adjust to his new surroundings before the business of putting together a team.
Now, five months later, Collins hasn't had time to even hang a photo on his office wall but he has a football team ready to face an opponent.
"There are still a lot of unknowns.  Our kicking game hasn't been tested in live-action.  How will our conditioning hold up in a full four quarters of play?" said Collins Tuesday.
"Those are just some of the questions but I fully expect our guys to go out and play as hard as they can.  That is a good starting point," said Collins.

Depth
While the following pages will give in-depth previews of each position, one thing that stands out is that this team has talent.  What it doesn't have is a depth of talent.
Some of their best offensive linemen are also some of their best defensive linemen.  
In previous years, the receiver coach would spout out eight or ten names of guys who would play on Friday night.  
This year, new coach Jacob Strait has half that many in his initial rotation.
The 2019 Bulldogs can have a really good season but the injury bug must stay far away.  Some big lineman will have to play a whole lot of snaps.
That is a scenario that most Class AAA and all Class AA and A coaches expect to face.  However, for one more year, the Bulldogs are Class AAAA.
The new alignments will be announced this fall but everybody expects Marlboro County will be assigned to Class AAA next school year.  That will be a great benefit athletically, where the school's declining enrollment has put them at a great disadvantage over the last four years.

Changes
Coach Collins brings with him a passion for running the football.  The Bulldog offense will look much more like that of the late 1990s, when Boyd ran an I-formation, smash mouth attack.
With four talented backs and a veteran offensive line, Collins should have the tools he needs to establish the ground game.
Coach Quin McCollum returns to Marlboro County to run the Bulldog defense.  He indicates that the philosophy will remain much the same.  

Scouting the Jaguars
Last year, the Bulldogs opened the season with Carolina Christian, a home-school team based in Rock Hill.  After the Cavaliers started a skirmish before halftime that caused the game to be stopped, it was wisely decided to find another opponent.
Fortunately, Ridgeland - Hardeeville had an opening in their schedule and were willing to come visit the Bulldogs.
Ridgeland - Hardeeville High was formed by the consolidation of the two small Jasper County schools in 2012.  They had winning seasons in 2013 and '14, but  were 2-8, 3-5 and 4-7 the last three years.
Former Darlington head coach Will Lampkin took over last year.  They closed the 2018 season strong with consecutive wins in conference games that boosted them into the playoffs.
However, the Jaguars graduated their starting quarterback and top running back.
 Like most season openers, the Bulldog coaches don't know a great deal about their opponents.
"It appears that they are a lot like us in that they lost  some key components and are a work in progress," said Collins.
"We have scrimmage film of them, so we have an idea of their schemes.  Their players were in practice jerseys with no numbers, so we don't know much about which guy is which," he said.
The Jaguars have some big linemen, including 300 pound defensive tackle Nasim Washington and 290 pound offensive and defensive lineman Jeremiah Orr.
Junior Antonio Chaneyfield, who was a receiver and defensive end last year, has been converted to quarterback.
"In their scrimmages, they look like they are about evenly balanced between the pass and the run," said Collins.

Tee it up
The Bulldogs and Jaguars will kick off the regular season at 7:30 Friday night at McAlpine Stadium.

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