Ready or Not, Here They Come . . .

In 2012, Zelick Levy (3) sprints into the gap behind the blocking of Corey Davis (8) in week two action against Cathedral. Tonight RWA opens on the road at Patrick Henry in what is known across the state as ‘Week Zero.’

Week Zero. What can it mean?

Normal human beings do not begin any sort of tabulation with “zero,” yet the S.C. High School League and its SCISA counterpart of independent schools, does. Richard Winn Academy, thus, opens its 2013 football campaign tonight (Aug. 23), the proverbial “Week Zero” of high school football, one week before the greater majority of schools across the state kick off their schedules.

The Eagles, in their second year of eight-man football, take their 2013 program on the road to Estill, in Hampton County, to take on the Patriots of Patrick Henry Academy. Last year, the Eagles came up just shy of starting off the 2012 season at 1-0, falling 18-15 to the Pats at home. This year, however, the odds appear to be in their favor for a more favorable outcome.

“I don’t know if we’re ready to play anybody,” Patriots head coach Mike McCoy said this week.

McCoy said the Pats are fielding a young team, stocked with fresh meat up from the junior varsity ranks. And with the constant deluge of heavy rains, the young team has not had the practice time necessary to congeal as a unit, let alone learn the plays.

“I’ve had years where all we had to do was condition because everybody knew what they were doing,” McCoy said. “The weather has been bad here. It’s been horrible. We’re just lucky this is a non-region game.”

The Patriots are primarily a running team, lining up in the I-formation, McCoy said, but even at this late date he is not sure if they have the legs to pound out those yards. His offensive line, however, is a bright spot, with a handful of returning juniors to lead a generally experienced group. McCoy’s defense, on the other hand, is untested, and the lack of practice time means many of them will be learning on the job when they take the field against the Eagles.

Richard Winn, under new head coach Dan Dickerson, will also be a run-heavy team (see our Aug. 29 Fall Sports Preview for a comprehensive look at RWA and other area schools), lining up in the I and showing a lot of veer and option looks. The weather, of course, has been as bad in the Midlands has it has been in the Lowcountry, but Dickerson said he felt confident going into opening night.

“We’ll continue to tweak (our offense) from week to week, but we’ve got our base offense set,” Dickerson said. “We looked pretty good (in scrimmage play) last week. We executed well. Our defense gave up a few big plays, but they couldn’t move the ball against us consistently.”

If the Eagles offense can keep an inexperienced Patrick Henry defense off balance, and if the defense can eliminate the big play, RWA could very well be among the first undefeated teams of the 2013 season.

“We feel pretty good about it,” Dickerson said.

“Richard Winn is in a better spot than we are,” McCoy said. “They’re in a better spot than they were last year. They were young last year. We’re young this year.”

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. For directions to the school, see their Web site at www.patrickhenryacademy.org.