FORT MILL — Rebuilding is never an easy task, even if it’s not a total overhaul, but that is what the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets may be looking at for the 2013 football season.
The Jackets are in search of a starting quarterback with the graduation of Rylan Wells, who is going to Jacksonville University in Florida on a football scholarship. So far, the quarterback competition is among three players – Rogan Wells, Rylan’s younger brother; Clay Helvey and Taylor Hemphill, a transfer from Nation Ford.
They are also looking to replace a key player in Breshon Simpson, who is now at Dorman High School in Spartanburg County. Simpson did a little bit of everything last year, from receiving to running the ball to playing quarterback.
So far, head coach Ed Susi is optimistic about what he has seen from his team in practice and in the weight room.
“We have had a good summer so far,” he said. “The kids are working hard.”
One thing that Susi and Fort Mill will need to replace also is senior leadership as they only have 10 seniors on this year’s squad.
“We lost a good senior class,” he said. “But we got some skill kids on the rise.”
One of the skill players on the rise will be senior Deryan Sanders, who Susi is expecting to contribute more this season. Sanders rushed for 775 yards on 119 carries last year and tallied eight touchdowns on the ground. He had another five touchdowns during the season through various other means.
Fort Mill also lost five senior linemen who helped to push Sanders to those yards and touchdowns.
“We will be young on the line this year,” Susi said. “So the guys are going to have to step up.”
The Jackets also are replacing their longtime defensive coordinator, Dave Thomas, who is now at Lugoff-Elgin – ironically Fort Mill’s season opening opponent – with former Independence High defensive coordinator and head coach Bill Geiler.
Geiler led Independence High to the 2004 state championship and coached with legendary Independence head coach Tommy Knotts, who is now at Dutch Fork, also another Fort Mill opponent this season. He was a part of six state championships at Independence, five as an assistant and one as a head coach.
Before the season opens, Fort Mill again is slated to host the Battle of the Border Jamboree this season Aug. 17 at Bob Jones Stadium. This year’s jamboree will host just four teams as Nation Ford will play Indian Land and Fort Mill will play Weddington. Each team will play a regulation half of football.