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First Baptist High School
Charleston

Hurricanes begin bid to repeat as state champions

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

James Island – The defending SCISA Class AA state football champions are looking for a repeat in 2017.

First Baptist finished off the regular season on October 27th with a 66-0 win over Northwood Academy, capping off an eight-game winning streak. Since losing to Escambia Academy in Alabama in mid-August, the Hurricanes have been virtually unstoppable through the regular season.

The Hurricanes have allowed just 35 points over their last eight games while averaging more than 50 points per game offensively. First Baptist opens the SCISA AA state playoffs on November 3rd against Spartanburg Christian Academy and is the heavy favorite to repeat as the state champions.

Anchoring that strong defensive effort this season are linebackers Jackson Watson and Timmy Campbell. Watson, a junior, and Campbell, a senior, have combined for more than 200 tackles in 2017.

Offensively, the machine is led by junior running back Michel Dukes. Despite not playing in the second-half of several games this season, the 5-11, 190-pound Dukes has rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. Dukes, who had early college offers from Wake Forest, South Carolina and Georgia Tech, received a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech last weekend.

“We run him a lot early in games because he needs to get his work and reps but he hasn’t had to play a lot in the second half,” head coach Johnny Waters said recently. “He’s in good shape and he’s ready for the playoffs.”

Junior Tremez Brown is a first-year starter at quarterback and has continued to grow and mature in the offensive attack. Brown has passed for more than 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns in nine games. His favorite targets in the passing game include Tylan Major, Eddie Simmons and McKay Wilson. Major leads the team in receiving with more than 700 yards.

Robert E. Lee Academy, St. Andrews School, and Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate are expected to be the top contenders for First Baptist’s crown. First Baptist beat Robert E. Lee in the finals last season and beat St. Andrews during the 2017 regular season.

In other sports this fall, the swim program competed in the Class AAA state championship meet a few weeks ago. The boys team posted a fifth-place finish in the final team standings while the girls finished seventh overall.

Individually, on the boys team, Burke Arrendondo took a silver medal in the 100-yard breaststroke and a bronze in the 200-yard individual medley.

Steven Allen was sixth in the breaststroke and seventh in the 500-yard freestyle. Both swam on the 200-yard medley relay team that finished fourth. They were joined by Cody Anderson and Rhame Honeycutt. The 200-relay team finished sixth and Zeke Mesenbourg was seventh in the 200-yard individual medley. Anderson, Allen, Arrendondo and Sam English formed the 200-yard relay team.

The top swimmer for the girls team in the state meet was Eliza Smith, who finished third in the 200-yard IM and fourth in the backstroke. Maggie Madden was seventh in the 50-yard freestyle and 10th in the 100-yard freestyle. Cathryn Holladay finished ninth in the backstroke. Those three, along with Ann Classen, finished sixth in the 200-yard medley relay.

 Madden, Smith, Holladay and Lydia English combined for a fifth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

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