Columbia Star

Battle of District One foes could set the tone for rest of season

Dreher’s Colby Fuller

After months of training and practicing, the high school football season officially kicks off Friday, August 19 with a key matchup between the Keenan Raiders and the Dreher Blue Devils.

The Raiders won the 2021 battle and will look for a similar confidence-boosting win to start the 2022 season as they host Dreher.

“We just want to make sure we have everything in order and have a good showing,” Keenan head coach Ray McLeod said.

Keenan looks to bounce back after falling to the A.C. Flora Falcons 40-0 in last week’s Sportsarama.

McLeod said some of his players were out of position against A.C. Flora. Since Saturday’s game, he has moved them around and believes they are in better position to be successful.

“Hopefully the Sportsarama was a wakeup call,” McLeod said. “I hope it gives our players a sense of urgency with what we are doing, and they’ll come out and play better against Dreher.”

In order for the Raiders to have success, they will need great performances from quarterback Hernandez O’Neal and running back Quay Howard. On the offensive line, McLeod expects Ahmad Wilson to provide leadership.

On defense, Tyreik Davison, Adis Jamison, and Mikaili Jamison will need to have big games.

Keenan’s Hernandez O’Neal hands the ball to Quay Howard.

For Dreher, it’s the debut of first-year head coach and alumnus Corey Jenkins. The former Blue Devil wants his team to build off the identity it built during Sportsarama, which included a downfield shot on Dreher’s first offensive play.

“We’re going to let people know this is not the same old Dreher,” Jenkins said. “We are going to be a team that takes chances, works hard, and plays physical football.”

Jenkins is excited about his team’s first game and wants to have a good showing. For that to happen, quarterback Colby Fuller will need to perform well. Jenkins has seen his quarterback grow in terms of maturity and leadership.

Jenkins believes the key to the game is his team’s ability to respond to adversity. McLeod wants to see his team minimize turnovers and penalties, and block and tackle better.

Last year’s game set the table for Keenan’s first winning season in quite some time. This year’s game could serve a similar role. McLeod knows the importance of winning the season opener and one that is at home.

Jenkins wants his Blue Devils to believe they belong on the field with every team they play this season.

On a side note, Keenan principal Vondre’ T. Whaley and Dreher principal Kevin Hasinger have a bet on this game. The losing team’s principal will have to wear a t-shirt with the other team’s logo and present himself on Twitter for all the world to see…good stuff for a friendly district rivalry.

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