SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A young South Charleston football team found its way into the playoffs a year ago even with a 4-6 record in the regular season.

The Black Eagles played 11 freshmen and eight sophomores, snagging the final playoff spot and securing an opening round playoff game against top seed Huntington.

“We told the kids at the beginning of the year that our goal was to be a playoff football team and we were fortunate enough to do that,” said South Charleston coach Donnie Mays. “I’m not going to make excuses or apologize for making the playoffs with a 4-6 record.

“Being in the Mountain State Athletic Conference,” he continued. “And then going outside of the conference to play Johnson Central (KY) there are no excuses or apologies needed to be made.”

Drew Joseph heads into his senior season with the Black Eagles after establishing himself as one of the better linebackers in the state over the last couple of years.

“He’s been the leader on the defense, he takes charge and understands how to get guys lined up,” Mays said of Joseph. “He knows where the football is going about 90 percent of the time. I’d say the other 10 percent, they probably made a mistake and ran it the wrong way.”

Besides Joseph defensively, rising sophomore defensive end Zeiqui Lawton has developed into a D-I prospect.

Garrett Cullen,

Sophomore Shyleik Kinney is expected to take over at quarterback for South Charleston.

Lawton, 6-foot-2, 232 pounds, this summer has picked up a lot of D-I attention, including offers from West Virginia, Marshall and Eastern Kentucky.

“He stepped into a big role last year as a freshman, going up against some of the best offensive linemen in the state,” Mays said. “When you first look at him, he passes the eyeball test. What has helped him is that he has his head on straight, he knows what to do and his grades are phenomenal. He’s been a blessing for us.”

Sophomore Shyleik Kinney is the front-runner at quarterback after throwing for 471 yards and three touchdowns in a backup role last season.

“He came in late last year and got three games under his belt after Trae Murphy got hurt,” Mays said. “He did a really good job. He grew up a lot in that playoff game (against Huntington) – having a lead against those guys at one point, he was in a groove and he was feeling it. He’s gotten so much better.”

Sophomore Jaydyn Johnson will also get carries out of the backfield, while Lawton could get some touches there as well.

6-foot-2 junior Samahji Simon, who made 33 catches for 444 yards and five touchdowns last year, leads a receiving core that has a plethora of weapons overall.

“Samahji is a vertical threat for us and a jailbreak screen type of guy,” Mays said. “This might be the overall fastest group of receivers that I’ve had since I’ve been here. They’re just tremendously fast.”

The Black Eagles open up the year against George Washington on Thursday, August 23, beginning a challenging opening five games with other contests in that stretch against Capital, Johnson Central, Spring Valley and Huntington.

“Anybody who sees that schedule knows it’s tough,” Mays said. “But it’s South Charleston High School and we’ve always been up for the challenge. We’ve done a tremendous job for our kids and our kids work hard for us. When you take each game one at a time, it makes it a little bit easier.”

2018 Football Schedule

1 08/23/187:30PMA – GEORGE WASHINGTON  
2 08/31/187:30PMH – CAPITAL HIGH SCHOOL  
3 09/07/187:30PMA – JOHNSON CENT. KY H.S.  
4 09/14/187:30PMH – SPRING VALLEY  
5 09/28/187:30PMH – HUNTINGTON  
6 10/05/187:30PMA – WOODROW WILSON  
7 10/12/187:30PMH – RIVERSIDE  
8 10/19/187:30PMA – HURRICANE  
9 10/26/187:30PMH – ST. ALBANS HIGH SCHOOL  
10 11/02/187:30PMA – CABELL MIDLAND  
 wins: 0   lost: 0   ties: 0