The Dorchester Academy football team reached the SCISA Class AA state championship game last fall and dropped a tough one, 20-6, to Calhoun Academy.
With a majority of the 2004 team returning, coach Stanley Gruber expected his squad to have the perfect blend of experience and motivation heading into the season.
But in the '05 season opener, the Raiders played like anything but a playoff-tested team in a 24-8 loss to Pinewood Prep.
"We stunk up the place," Gruber said of his team's ineptness in a loss to the Panthers. "We had five turnovers and all of them were unforced. We just put the ball on the ground. We were flat and I just don't think we were confident. But since then, so far, so good."
Dorchester Academy is one of the better teams in SCISA with a 5-1 record heading into Friday night's game against Colleton Prep. The Raiders also have potential to make a deep run in the playoffs.
"We're certainly not there yet by any means," said Gruber, whose team is seeking its third state title since '99 and fifth in Gruber's tenure. "I think we can do better. But we have the potential if we do a better job of throwing the ball. We run the ball with power. This team runs with power better than any team I've had here. If we get to the point where we can throw the football, we'll be in good shape."
James Horne has split time with McKinley Stephens at quarterback. Horne has completed 19 of 36 passes for 178 yards. He has four touchdown passes, but has thrown three interceptions.
The team's strength is its running game. Fullback Bobby Gibbs has 585 yards and seven touchdowns. He is averaging 8.9 yards per carry. Cody Walters has 60 carries for 266 yards and five scores. Rick Ayers give the running game depth.
The line has opened good holes, and one of the leaders is Charlie Murray, who sat out last season with a back injury.
"We have a lot of players back from last year," Gruber said. "We have players who have had a rough time at it too if you remember the season before when we went 4-7. We have the experience and have been through the tough times too. We're ready."
The High School League will crown state championship in swimming Saturday at the Soloman Blatt Physical Education Center on the campus of the University of South Carolina.
Warm-ups for Class AAA-AA-A will begin at 9:30 a.m. The meet starts at 10:30 a.m.
Warm-ups for Class AAAA will begin at 3:30 p.m., with the meet set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
Admission is $6.
Pinewood Prep captured the SCISA girls' state title last weekend in Augusta, Ga.
One of the keys for the Panthers' 242-232 victory over Cardinal Newman was a victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Taylor Hall swam the anchor leg for Pinewood, which won the event with a time of 4:08.53.
Get high school football scores as soon as we get them every Friday night by going to www.charleston.net and clicking on the High School Gameday Scoreboard located on the sports home page. The scoreboard also includes scores from previous games.
Philip M. Bowman covers high school sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 937-5592.