COACH: Ken Cribb
LAST YEAR: 6-6 (3-2 Region 7-A)
PLAYOFFS: 2ND round, lost to Johnsonville 20-7
RETURNING STARTERS: 7 offense, 6 defense
KEY PLAYERS: RB/LB DaQuan Casey, QB Xavier Weaver, WR/DB Carlis Pressley, OL/DL Olajuwon Gordon, DB Jeremy Vernon
KEY LOSSES: OL Anthony McCormick, OL Briston Warren
SCORING OFFENSE: 20.3
SCORING DEFENSE: 18.7
For a team that had to replace virtually everything last year, Hemingway put together a pretty impressive season. The Tigers lost loads of talent from the 2011 team that finished state runner-up in Class A Division I. But they steadily got better as the season went on and turned a rebuilding effort into a playoff run.
“We were so young last year that it was almost completely starting over,” Tigers coach Ken Cribb said. “But we did finish strong and we hope we can carry that over into this year.”
Hemingway's improvement culminated with a playoff upset of rival Carvers Bay in the first round. The Bears had gone 9-1 in the regular season and entered the game as the No. 1 seed in the lower state. Just three weeks prior, they had beaten the Tigers 32-7. Hemingway returned the favor in a 20-14 stunner that ended the Bears title hopes.
“I think it was big. Any time you finish pretty strong, that helps,” Cribb said. “We had a good offseason.”
Hemingway was eliminated by eventual lower state champion Johnsonville the following week, but even that game displayed their progress. The Flashes rolled past the Tigers 49-13 in mid-September, but won just 20-7 in the playoffs.
Thirteen starters are back from the team that made such dramatic improvement last year including a talented set of skill position players on offense. Cribb expects a big season from quarterback Xavier Weaver and likes the Tigers talent in the receiving corps. DaQuan Casey will lead the ground game.
Hemingway scored just 20.3 points per game last year, and lost three starters on the offensive line. They Tigers will need that unit to develop well in order to improve.
“It's just gonna take a little time to work out some kinks, up front especially,” Cribb said. “If we can get up front worked out, I think we've got a chance to be O.K.”
Hemingway's defense keyed its late season run, surrendering just 10.5 points per game over its final four contests. Six starters return from that unit.
Hemingway was one of the most improved teams in the Eastern Carolinas over the course of last season. The Tigers are much more experienced than in 2012 and should bring a lot of confidence into the season after the playoff win over Carvers Bay. Hemingway should be a region title contender in 2013.
Aug. 30 vs. Kingstree
Sept. 6 at Mullins
Sept. 13 vs. Cross
Sept. 20 vs. Johnsonville
Sept. 27 at Marion
Oct. 4 at Timmonsville
Oct. 11 at C.E. Murray
Oct. 18 at Carvers Bay
Oct. 25 vs. Scott's Branch
Nov. 1 vs. East Clarendon