By Steve LeMaster
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the John Paul II football program. That’s mostly because the school has made the move to 11-man football.
The Golden Warriors have done so under the direction of first-year head coach Kevin Wald, an individual familiar to many area high school football fans. An experienced coach, Wald took over the John Paul football program in January.
Wald made the move from Hilton Head Prep, where he compiled a 26-17 record in four seasons. As Hilton Head Prep’s head coach, Wald put together two eight-win seasons. In 2015, Wald coached Hilton Head Prep to a playoff victory prior. The Dolphins eventually lost in the second round of the playoffs.
John Paul II posted one win in 10 games during the 2015 season. The Golden Warriors finished 1-9 in the SCISA 8-man football division in 2015.
Heading into a season opener versus Hilton Head Christian Academy on Friday, Aug. 19, John Paul II featured only 22 players on its roster.
Several new players are present on the John Paul II football team’s roster.
Wide receiver/safety Karl Johnson is one of the experienced players back for the Golden Warriors. As a quarterback during the 2015 season, Johnson rushed for 448 yards in the Golden Warriors’ victory over St. John’s Christian.
Nyleem Wright is the new John Paul II starting quarterback. Wright transferred to John Paul II from Ridgeland-Hardeeville.
Another talented newcomer is offensive lineman/defensive lineman Blake Parsons.
Along with Johnson, other experienced players back for John Paul II are offensive linemen/defensive linemen Mark Tigges and Colin Byrne.
The move to 11-man football will mean new rivals for the Golden Warriors. John Paul II will also face the challenge of numerous players starting and playing often on both sides of the football.
The Golden Warriors are playing in the SCISA’s Class 1A, Region 2 this year.
In addition to Hilton Head Christian Academy, John Paul II’s regular season schedule includes games versus St. Andrew’s, Palmetto Christian, Hilton Head Prep, Dorchester Academy, Thomas Heyward, Carolina Academy, Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach, Colleton Prep and Calhoun Academy.
The Golden Warriors are slated to host St. Andrew’s, Palmetto Christian Academy, Thomas Heyward High School, Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach and Calhoun Academy.