2023 Football Preview: Boiling Springs
The Boiling Springs Bulldogs made some waves in their first season under Matt Reel’s guidance. While they won just 2 games, the young squad was a pleasant surprise that surpassed many’s expectations, making the 5A playoffs as an at-large bid before bowing out to Blythewood in the first round. The Bulldogs’ offense managed to score just 104 points in 11 games, but in spite of that, their defense kept them close in most of their games – something that Coach Reel was not only proud of, but excited about in regards to his 2023 team.
Naturally, with a team that was loaded with sophomores last season, the roster turnover isn’t too much of a concern. The Bulldogs will need to fill the shoes of 11 seniors. Including Wide Receivers Spencer Eison and Luke Compton, and other familiar names such as Jackson Cole and Hudson Wilson.
Those 11 graduates will be replaced by 12 returners – 6 on each side of the ball, many of whom saw significant playing time in 2022. Most notably is Quarterback Lincoln Huskey, who has made great strides since being cast into the role during his freshman season back in 2021. Last year was his first full season as a starter, but with his lack of experience, the overall lack of depth and experience around him, the offense struggled with putting together sustained and consistent drives.
With the improvement and growth shown, particularly along the offensive line, as well as with the strength of his defense, Reel believes this team has the potential to turn heads again in 2023.
“I am excited because we were so young last year…. We have a mix of returning guys that have worked extremely hard and some new faces that are either moving up from JV or transferred in that have a great opportunity to impact our team this year. We have a lot of guys that have earned the right to garner playing time and reps. I think the defensive unit as a whole has garnered a lot of attention for how they played last year and the Oline is a group that has matured and grown a lot from a year ago, and we will need them to be solid for us to be able to make the strides we want to this season.”
Aside from Huskey, the Bulldogs will also return a standout safety/linebacker in JoJo Barrett, senior defensive end/linebacker Calvin Jackson, and senior Tight End Dekari Sterling.
Asked who would be some key newcomers to the roster to watch out for, Coach Reel mentioned Sophomore Cornerback Jeremiah Favorite (pronounced Favor-right), a 2-sport athlete who also excels in basketball and saw significant time with the varsity hoops squad last season. There are also two guys coming up from JV that could make an impact in Junior Wideout Tristian Johnson and Junior D Lineman John Michael Simmons.
“Having a whole offseason to spend in the weight room and having all our coaches here for the whole offseason has been a big change from last year has made a difference in mental and physical toughness from top to bottom and our football IQ as a whole. Just seeing how the kids have grown and changed physically/mentally and really understanding football-wise what we are trying to accomplish, we are a lot further along in year 2. Thinking back to the spring last year, it was a huge culture shock and change for our kids. This spring you could see the kids have adapted to the weight room and practices, and they have really bought into what we are preaching to them. They are a different group than last year and they are excited to compete daily. I have been really proud of how they have worked, and I am excited for them to experience the fruit of their labor”, said Reel when asked what stood out the most to him from this spring and offseason workouts that excites him about the upcoming season.
“I’m just excited to measure ourselves vs the best teams in the state of SC and see how these players and coaches respond to the challenges and adversity. We have a great group of kids, we have dedicated coaches, and it’s going to be fun seeing the growth these guys have earned over the last 365 days. Now, it’s time to start winning those games that we played close last year and start changing the outlook of Bulldog Football across the landscape of high school football in SC.”
The Bulldogs will have the chance to showcase just how much they have grown as they set out to change the perception of the program right away as they open their 2023 campaign on the road at Mauldin on August 25th.