The James Island Trojans got a jump on most football teams around the state by holding their first practice at the stroke of midnight Friday morning.
Will the midnight madness lead to a day in the sun during the Weekend of Champions?
Probably not. But Trojans coach Dave Brunner says it's great to see his players take ownership of the program.
"We have a group of seniors who wanted to get at it as soon as possible," said Brunner, who has gone 3-8 in each of his first two years at the school. "It's just a little something to motivate them. I said it sounded like a great idea when they first approached me about it back in spring. But as it grew closer, I wasn't sure if it was a good idea because I didn't know if I wanted to be up at that hour.
"It's good to see their desire, and I'd love to see this midnight madness take on a life of its own. The kids have taken ownership and want to showcase the program."
The team has struggled recently, but Brunner is counting on 29 lettermen to continue their development. The Trojans struggled to score points last fall, managing just 16 points per game, which was the lowest in Region 7-AAAA. The defense had trouble stopping the opposition, surrendering 26.7 points per game, which was second worst in the conference.
The offense should be better and should continue to throw the football. Quarterback Michael Rentz has two years' experience in the program and won the starting job last fall. He responded by passing for more than 2,500 yards. One of his top receivers will be Trevor Smith, who also should be productive from the strong safety position. Jamar Brown has the size, speed and hands to play either running back or wide receiver.
Donavan McDaniel will head up the linebacking corps, while Emmitt Smith (yes, he's No. 22, too) will play in the secondary.
Other players Brunner is counting on this fall are Jonathan Game, Walt Linville and Hampton Thomas.
Birchwood back at Pinewood
Jason Birchwood has been named the coach of the Pinewood Prep boys' soccer team.
He replaces Winston Helms, who moved out of the area when his fiancee landed a job in Reno, Nev.
Birchwood coached the team in 2004 and guided the Panthers to the SCISA Class AAA state championship. Helms coached the last two seasons and guided the Panthers to two more state crowns.
Pinewood has also hired former Charleston Battery player Collin Phillips as an assistant.
Green named to team
Former Bishop England softball standout Ashley Green left for Italy on Saturday. She's part of a U.S. team that is on a 10-day softball tour of the country. The team will play games in Legnano, Milan, and a tournament in Arezzo.
Green set a Wingate school record this spring with 27 victories. She had a 1.51 ERA in 195.1 innings, and struck out 176 batters.
She also had a great semester in the classroom. She made dean's list for Spring and has a 3.73 overall grade-point average.
Reach Philip M. Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 937-5592.