Heading into the season, Stratford head coach Mark Farriba knew his team’s offense had some rebuilding to do.
The Eagles’ top two playmakers, Quintez Cephus and O’Showen Williams, graduated, as did quarterback Sim Patrick. Gone, too, was offensive coordinator Jamie Dickey, who left to begin a career in the automotive industry.
Injuries have given Farriba and new offensive coordinator Cater Pierce an even deeper look at the roster, at least on offense. Kasey Sanders and Tyler Jordan, running backs who joined Williams to form a powerful trio out of the backfield last year, have both missed playing time.
Still, Stratford has found some success early on. The Eagles are 2-1 heading into Friday’s 7:30 p.m. home contest with Lincoln County, scoring comfortable wins over Savannah Country Day and Atkinson County and playing competitively in a 10-point loss at Class 1A No. 10 Landmark Christian.
“We’ve had three really good games up to this point,” Farriba said. “I think we are making progress. We are working with some new guys and trying to get them up to speed and everything. But we’ve really had a great time up to this point and are looking forward to a big game Friday night.”
Through the first three games, the Stratford offense has been somewhat pedestrian. The top three rushers — Sanders, Ames Jamison and Russell Mole, each have slightly more than 100 yards for the season. Quarterback Noah Hill, meanwhile, has thrown for 220 yards and a touchdown.
Anchored by three-star defensive end Tobe Umerah, however, Stratford’s defense has taken on a leading role. The Eagles shut out Savannah Country Day and held Landmark Christian to a season-low 13 points.
“Our defense has been consistently good from the beginning,” Farriba said. “Offensively, we struggled a bit the first couple of games, had some injuries and still aren’t completely healthy. I felt that two weeks ago, when we played Atkinson County, I felt like we really took a big step towards getting ourselves really running our offense. We’re not there yet, but it’s much better, and practice this week and last week was nice.”
Lincoln County should give Stratford a strong test heading into Region 7A-1A play, which the Eagles open next week at home against Mount de Sales. The Red Devils (2-0-1) are one of the favorites in Region 7B-1A, having defeated a Grovetown team that picked up a handful of transfers from last year’s Region 7-1A champion and Class 1A private runner-up, Aquinas.
The Grovetown victory was Lincoln County’s only game to date against an in-state opponent. The Red Devils’ other games came against opponents from South Carolina.
Red Devils quarterback Javon Reid has rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns, and he has completed 14-of-29 passes for 179 yards and another score. Running back Quay Hatfield has run for 186 yatrds and three touchdowns.