Last season, the Flying Raiders of Columbia, S.C., busted the Hurricanes’ dreams of a championship by downing the local semi-professional football team, 28-6, in the semi-final game. On Saturday night, the Hinesville team will have an opportunity to avenge the loss when they host the Raiders at 7 p.m. at Long Bell Stadium.
The South Carolina squad finished the season as the undefeated champions of the Southeastern American Football League.
This year, the Hurricanes are better prepared.
“They aren’t the same team they were last year,” ’Canes head coach James Sharp said. “And we aren’t the same team either. We didn’t have the linemen we have this year when we played them last.”
The ’Canes line has improved dramatically due partly to the addition of the “Samoan power boys,” as the players are called by their teammates.
Taufuiava Junior Tilo, Dan Brown, Robert Brown and Timothy Matavao have added height and power to the line, giving quarterbacks Frank Troup and Shawn Jones plenty of time in the pocket.
“They know how to block and stick to the block,” Sharp said.
Matavao’s brother, Joseph, is the team’s powerhouse running back. Aiding the running game are Kendrick Badger and Devon Grey, who have helped the ’Canes to a 2-0 record.
Placing the pigskin in the hands of Timothy Sapp or Charles Crossley has never been a problem, and now the ’Canes have added the skills of Tyrone Gaines. Crossley and Marcus Simpson are the ones to watch when it comes to interceptions.
Sharp said his team is prepared for Saturday’s challenge.
“We never know what style of play they will bring,” he said. “Last time we prepared for the passing game so they switched to the run. This time we prepared for anything they might try.”