High-SchoolFootball: Byrnes High School

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Oscar Smith

June, 13, 2012
Oscar Smith FootballAP Photo/The Daily Progress, Sabrina SchaefferOscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) won the Group AAA Division 6 state title last season to finish No. 43 in the POWERADE FAB 50.
During the offseason, we’ll check on one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation this fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer archive

This week’s team: Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.)

2011 Season: 14-1, Group AAA Division 6 state champion, No. 43 in the final POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 50. The Tigers continue to produce touted skill players, and this season should be no different. At the head of the pack is Zack Jones, a wide receiver/defensive back who caught 49 passes for 993 yards and 16 scores as a junior. He has committed to Virginia, where his brother, Perry, is a team captain and running back. The Tigers have a chance to make a statement in August when they entertain South Carolina power Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) in a showdown of defending state champions. Byrnes was ranked No. 30 last season in the FAB 50. Oscar Smith went unbeaten versus in-state competition in 2011 and reeled off 14 straight wins after losing to FAB 50 No. 21 Gilman (Baltimore). The Tigers have won eight straight district titles in the competitive Tidewater area and will be the team to beat again in 2012.

Team Strengths: Besides Jones, the Tigers return the team's top tackler in pass-rushing defensive end Kanyia Anderson , who recorded 110 tackles, 22 sacks and forced six fumbles. Two touted underclass prospects include freshman running back DeShawn McClease and sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Bradshaw (5-11, 170). Both already are on the radar of college recruiters. Another running back gaining attention is junior Marcus Smith (5-8, 170). All three will need to step up to replace J.C. Coleman, who signed with Virginia Tech. The other main offensive concern is at quarterback with productive J.J. Williamson off to Hampton University. His backup, Dashawn Blow (5-8, 175), is primed for the job. Other players to watch include sophomore defensive lineman Drew Varner, sophomore linebacker Marquise Cook and freshman kicker Brad Davis.

Another Virginia team to watch: Salem (Virginia Beach, Va.) gave Oscar Smith its biggest in-state scare last season before falling 35-34 in the Eastern Region Division 6 championship and finished 11-2 overall. The SunDevils return touted quarterback Bucky Hodges, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound junior who has committed to Virginia Tech. Hodges completed 64 percent of his passes last year for 2,142 yards and 26 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Leading the defense is top linebacker Andrew Motu'apuaka, who recorded 97 tackles and had three interceptions as a junior. When all is said and done in the Tidewater area, Salem could hold bragging rights over Oscar Smith and other contenders.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Byrnes

March, 14, 2012
Akia BookerGarry Jones/APJunior receiver Akia Booker caught 80 passes for 1,284 yards and 21 touchdowns this past fall to help lead Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) to its 11th state title.
During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation for next fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer Archive

This week’s team: Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)

2011 Season: 13-2, Class 4A, Division I state champion, No. 30 in final POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 25. In South Carolina, the road to a large-class state championship runs through the town of Duncan. The Rebels, who have won 11 titles, will be seeking a third straight crown and ninth in the last 11 years. Entering last season, the concern was the quarterback spot for the pass-minded, high-octane offense. But sophomore Shuler Bentley, son of former Byrnes coach and current district athletic director/Byrnes offensive coordinator Bobby Bentley, took charge and that spot looks secure the next two seasons. Byrnes avenged its regular-season loss versus Gaffney with a 31-24 win in the state final. Twelve starters from that squad were underclassmen.

Team Strengths: Six starters on each side of the ball return to the lineup for Byrnes. The offense is anchored by the all-star passing combination of Bentley to junior wide receiver Akia Booker. In his first varsity season, Bentley passed for 3,495 yards and 47 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, Booker, who’s also a dangerous kick returner, caught 80 passes for 1,284 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. The offensive line will return three starters in junior Nathan Taylor and sophomores Ben Clark and Sydney Martin. The secondary is the strength of the defense with four starters expected back in juniors D.J. Henderson, Keke Ashmore, Brandon Bailey and Shane Samuels. Juniors Alex Garrett and Melvin Armstrong anchor the linebacking corps.

Another South Carolina team to watch: Goose Creek (Goose Creek, S.C.) was one of the better teams that just missed getting a spot in the final POWERADE FAB 50. The Gators capped a school-best 14-1 record with the Class 4A, Division II championship and were a Southeast Region bubble team. Goose Creek, which went 13-1 in 2010, suffered only a 52-51, double-overtime loss to University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

The Gators bring back sophomore running back Caleb Kinlaw, who rushed for 1,497 yards this past fall; junior receiver Tramel Terry, who caught 44 passes for 833 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 847 yards and 10 touchdowns; and junior defensive end Gerald Turner, who has offers from the likes of South Carolina and Clemson.