2018-07-13 / Sports

Eagles eyeing improvement in 2018

By Josh Cruse


Brandon Caughman is battling with Markco Gilmore for the starting quarterback position at Airport, after throwing for 1,090 yards in 2017. Brandon Caughman is battling with Markco Gilmore for the starting quarterback position at Airport, after throwing for 1,090 yards in 2017. A 3-8 record in 2017 epitomized how much the Airport Eagles struggled, despite making another playoff appearance. Some of the struggles were expected, as Airport lost approximately 98 percent of its offensive production from the season before. However, a lack of depth on defense played a role in last season’s shortcomings as well.

Even with the recent struggles, head coach Kirk Burnett, who enters his 15th season at Airport, is optimistic about the 2018 edition of the Eagles.

His optimism starts at quarterback where leading passer Brandon Caughman returns after throwing for 1,090 yards in 2017. He will be pushed by Markco Gilmore for the starting job. Gilmore had a solid spring and adds more of a running dynamic to the position. Caughman was only able to participate in part of spring practice, while also manning first base for Airport’s baseball team that made it to the 4A State Championship series.

The running game should be more of a strength, with the introduction Bruce Staley. The White Knoll transfer sat out last year and will look to make an impact on this year’s squad. He is joined in the backfield by Butch Lawrence.

Zach Roberts, Airport’s leading receiver, returns and should be a main target for whoever is the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

Burnett said he will be disappointed if the offensive line doesn’t do well this season, as Airport returns starters Colby Key, Jim Germany, J.C. Redmond, and Sean Miller. Daquan Scott looked good in the spring and will compete for playing time this season on the line.

While there are a number of returning starters on offense, there are a lot of newcomers to the defense, starting with the defensive line. Hasaan Ferguson headlines the group and will be joined by many offensive linemen who will play both ways. London Tillmon, Darrius Perry, and Jacob McNarmar will also compete for playing time.

Sam LaFrange, also a part of Airport’s baseball team, and Raquan Coles will man two of the linebacker spots.

Alfonso Chavero will line up at strong safety and will be joined by Tyler Gilmore and Dwayne Mack. Darryl Pou may be the best cornerback on the team.

Burnett will break in a new kicker and punter after Paxton Brooks graduated and will be playing football on Saturdays as a part of the University of Tennessee program. Haden Rimer replaces Brooks. Airport’s new kicker was on the cheerleading squad last season but has impressed Burnett with his kicking abilities.

It will be interesting to see how many strides the Airport team can make in 2018 as not much changes on the schedule from 2017. Dreher and Swansea replace Chapin and Orangeburg-Wilkinson in the non-region portion. The Eagles will play Brookland- Cayce twice, after the Bearcats are again in the same region as Airport.

An increase in the win column and another playoff appearance should be givens. Burnett said the key to his team’s success is staying healthy, focused, and winning the close games. If the Eagles are able to accomplish those things, the 2018 season could reach bigger heights.

Head Coach:
Kirk Burnett
(15th season)
Overall Record: 91-68

2017 record: 3-8
2017 playoffs: Lost to
York 55-14 in the first
round of the 4A playoffs

2017 Results
Brookland-Cayce 21-42 L
Lower Richland 19-24 L
Gilbert 28-44 L
O-W 25-15 W
RNE 20-23 L
Midland Valley 56-27 W
North Augusta 7-47 L
Aiken 14-6 W
South Aiken 14-28 L
Chapin 17-29 L

Playoffs

York 14-55 L

5-year win trend
2013: 3
2014: 4
2015: 10
2016: 5
2017: 3

Points per game:
Airport: 21.4
Opponents: 30.9

2018 Schedule
Aug. 17 at Dreher
Aug. 24 vs. Brookland-
Cayce
Aug. 31 at Swansea
Sept. 7 at Gilbert
Sept. 14 vs. Lower
Richland
Sept. 28 at Midland Valley
Oct. 5 vs. North Augusta
Oct. 12 vs. Aiken
Oct. 19 vs. South Aiken
Oct. 26 at Brookland-
Cayce

2017 Regular
Season Stats
Rushing offense 155.9
Passing Offense 125.5
Total Offense 281.4

2017 Stat leaders
Passing: Brandon
Caughman, 1,090 yards
Rushing: Jamarcus Pugh,
710 yards
Receiving: Zach Roberts,
240 yards

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