|Aug. 17||at Wilson|
|Aug. 24||Calhoun County|
|Aug. 31||at Dreher|
|Sept. 7||at Daniel|
|Sept. 14||at A.C. Flora|
|Sept 28||Fairfield Central|
|Oct. 4||at Keenan|
|Oct. 19||at North Central|
|Oct. 26||at Eau Claire|
Kemper Amick is the epitome of calm as he watches his Columbia Capitals go through preseason practice. He remains at peace despite several obstacles his team must overcome before the start of the season.
It matters little to Amick, entering his 15th season as coach at Columbia, that he has to replace his three top offensive talents from of a team that was an extra point shy from playing for the Class 2A Division II state championship last season.
It also doesn’t matter that the Capitals are nearly a week into preseason practice, and Amick still didn’t have his full squad on the field. Amick is waiting on eligibility issues — be it academic or transfer related — for players that could be contributors.
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He also has the same roadblock as all other coaches in Richland One. Despite the South Carolina High School League establishing a criteria for teams being able to practice up to at least three hours per day on most days, Richland One has limited its schools to 90 minutes with nothing between 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
But Amick’s calmness comes from knowing the players that are returning could match last season’s 10-3 record.
“We didn’t have a big senior class, but we lost three of the best players we’ve ever had around here,” Amick said. “That makes it tough to replace people like that. We hope with the guys that we have filling in, we have a little bit more around them this year.”
The three departing players in question are quarterback Ky Tyler (Georgia Military), receiver Casey Gladney (junior college after not qualifying for scholarships to Alabama or Texas Tech) and all purpose player Justin Muller. Tyler accounted for over 4,500 yards of total offense, and many of his over 3,000 passing yards found the hands of Gladney and Mueller.
But Amick believes the has a solid replacement at quarterback in senior Anthony Brown. Two years ago, Brown was at Class 4A Wando but could not participate due to moving from Brookland-Cayce in the preseason. Brown moved back to Columbia last year and practiced the entire season with Columbia.
Now is his time to shine.
Amick was hesitant to compare the two but there was one thing he liked about Brown.
“Brown is probably a better runner and he has arm strength,” the veteran coach said. “His 10th grade year, he practiced every day at Wando. Ty was raw, but Brown is well coached and he’s going to have the footwork and everything down. They’re different but both are very talented.”
Amick has a few more concerns on defense. In the past, Amick used mostly a two-platoon system and rarely played players both ways. But being in a numbers crunch, he expects to have more two-way players, at least early in the season.
“Defensively, we have to have some guys come through. We feel pretty good about the defensive backs and certain spots at linebacker, but we need some guys to come through on the defensive line.
The Capitals have made it to the state semifinals four times since 2003, and Amick has built a schedule that will test the Capitals early. There are road games at Wilson, Daniel and A.C. Flora along with a home contest against Calhoun County. Fairfield Central drops from Class 3A and will be the Capitals’ first region game.
“We will see how good we are pretty quickly,” Amick said. “If we don’t get beat up too bad, hopefully we can play for a while at the end of the year.”