Fort Mill’s Miller Shouse goes to chase down a runner during a recent scrimmage against Cuthbertson. Shouse will be a key player in the Jackets defense this season.

To say that Fort Mill football has taken its lumps in recent years, would be an understatement. But a new season brings new expectations and some hope for better times ahead.

This year’s team brings back quarterback Kyle Neibch, who is now in his second year under head coach Rob McNeely’s direction. One thing new this year for Fort Mill is offensive coordinator Thabiti Davis. Davis played part of four seasons in the NFL, one with the Carolina Panthers in 1998. 

With a lack of lengthy summer, McNeely said this year the team has been pressed for time to prepare for the season.

“You want to try to keep things simple,” he said. “They are coming along. It’s a new offense. We are seeing some improvement. It is all we could ask for.”

McNeely said having Neibch back in the offense will be beneficial this season due to his athleticism and being a year into the system.

“He is a tough kid,” McNeely said. “Fundamentally, he is sound. He doesn’t make stupid mistakes. The thing I am most proud of is his leadership. He has really stepped up with his peers and taken a leadership role.”

From a receiver standpoint, Neibch has three-sport athlete Joshua Sturgeon coming back this year who should be one of the leading receiving threats for the Jackets this season. One aspect that is looking good this season is the running game for Fort Mill with threats like Michael Threatt and Brandon Elliott in the backfield.

McNeely said that the team should just focus on what they can do.

“We have to take what the defense gives us and stay within what we can do as a team,” he said. “It can be up tempo when we need too. “

Defensively, McNeely said his team has tweaked some things, but said it is effort to the ball on defense that will aid Fort Mill.

Fort Mill has several defensive players that could become Division I athletes next season in defensive back JJ Ogwal and lineman Boston Brinkley. Another key player on defense for the Jackets this season will be Miller Shouse as a defensive end.

Fort Mill football will open their season this Friday making the crosstown trip to Catawba Ridge for the first time ever playing in the Snake Pit. Their schedule won’t be easy this season starting with the Copperheads.

The Jackets will have home games starting Sept. 3 against Indian Land and will be at home for a solid month culminating against Nation Ford Oct. 1. Fort Mill will have road games at Chester, Clover, York and the regular season finale at Gaffney.

Fort Mill Football              (all games are at 7:30 p.m.)

Aug. 20                 at Catawba Ridge

Aug. 27                 at Chester

Sept. 3                  vs. Indian Land

Sept. 10                vs. Lancaster

Sept. 17                vs. Lugoff-Elgin (Homecoming)

Sept. 24                Bye

Oct. 1                    vs. Nation Ford

Oct. 8                    at Clover

Oct. 15                  at York

Oct. 22                  vs. Boiling Springs

Oct. 29                  at Gaffney

Mac Banks:, @fortprep