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St. Johns Islanders High School
John's Island

St. John’s ready to make noise in Class A playoffs

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Johns Island—There were high expectations coming into the season for the St. John’s football team. After getting off to a good start, the Islanders lost a pair of close games to Baptist Hill and Scott’s Branch, dropping them to second in the region standings going into an off week.

St. John’s wrapped up the regular season with a 48-6 win over Charleston Math & Science, moving them to 5-4 overall. They are currently ranked No. 14 in the latest HSSR Class A poll.

“We needed that bye week worse than any other team in the state,” said head coach Josh Harpe. “We needed to get physically, mentally and emotionally rested. I feel like we’re ready to go in this third part of our season. We had a tune-up game against Math & Science now we’re ready to go.

“Everybody has fallen off our bandwagon. Everybody was talking about us earlier in the year but they’re not talking about us anymore. We should be better, but we’re happy where we are.”

Now the Islanders turn their attention to the postseason. St. John’s hosts Bethune-Bowman (6-4) in the first round of the playoffs, and if they advance, would travel to second-ranked Hemingway in round two. It was the Tigers who upset the Islanders and ended their season in 2016.

“I like the underdog role because we haven’t responded well with the target on our back. Everybody that has beaten us has acted like they won the Super Bowl, and that’s a credit to our kids. We didn’t embrace the target. We still saw ourselves as the hunter instead of the hunted,” Harpe said.

Going into the final game of the regular season, quarterback Kam Smiley had eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark while adding 824 passing yards. Jalen Hammond has been another weapon, gaining 845 yards on the ground. K.J. Robinson is the leading receiver with 317 yards and four touchdowns, and James Grant anchors the offensive line.

Defensively, the Islanders have gotten plenty of production from Tyrone Hicks, Lavon Traeye and A.J. Frazier.

“We just have to refocus. When you get tired, you stop doing the little things that made you successful. We’re trying to get back to the basics and cut down on turnovers and penalties. We’re trying to get better every day and play together as a team,” Harpe said.

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