15 Teams in 15 Days: Savannah Christian looks to get back to winning ways
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Welcome to 15 Teams in 15 Days! This is WSAV’s annual high school football preview series where we do a deep dive on a new team for each of the first 15 days of August. This year, we will ask and answer four standard questions of each team, which are all listed below:
Why are you interesting?
Savannah Christian found itself in an unusual position last year; under .500 for the first time since the 2003 season. The Raiders couldn’t seem to get their offense going until it was too late in the season, although strong performance against Aquinas and Country Day provided reasons for optimism.
It wasn’t enough to keep the Raiders from getting bounced out in the first round of the playoffs by Tattnall Square, 28-21. That’s the first time since 2013 that Savannah Christian did not make it past round one.
This year’s team already seems leaps and bounds ahead of that squad, though, enough so that the players feel comfortable setting the bar high.
“I think my goal for this year will be for our team to make a deep playoff run and win out every game this season,” said senior Jep Huspeth.
Who are your dudes?
Defensive lineman Elijah Griffin is a blue-chip prospect, garnering offers from Ohio State, Texas A&M and UGA, among others.
Griffin is just a sophomore, but he already has coaches blowing up his cellphone. He had to adjust from being a simple high school student to being in the spotlight pretty quickly.
“It’s a lot to take in honestly, especially during the beginning of my freshman year, its been a lot to take in. But I’ve been trying to get used to it day by day.”
When he’s not wrecking running backs, Griffin is a standout student with a 3.5 GPA. Griffin is also an anime fan that loves the show “Dragonball Z.”
Honestly Goku is my favorite character. My little sister put me on to it. I didn’t like anime at the time but now I like Dragonball Z and Naruto. Those are my favorite anime so far. And Attack on Titan, those are my favorite ones.”
After losing top wide receiver George Futch, the Raider offense is going to need at least one of its skill-position players to go Super Saiyan. They may find that boost in their duo of running backs, Kenry Wall and Zo Smalls.
“They’re doing phenomenal,” said offensive lineman Cole Burnsed. “They’re out here running hard. Today, Kenry jumped from the four-yard line into the end zone through a defender on a toss or something like that. It feels nice knowing that you’re blocking for somebody that’s going to run hard.”
What’s up with your coach?
Baker Woodward sits at the helm of the big red machine that is Savannah Christian. He owns an all-time record of 34-14 despite last year’s losing season, which should give you some idea of the success that came before 2021.
He says the key to getting Christian back on the right side of the ledger is accountability.
“Our main goal for this year is to come together as a family,” Woodward said. “It comes from Proverbs 17:17, a friend loves at all times but a brother is born for adversity. And it all started on June 6th, we had a big commitment on June 6th with summer workouts. Guys were committed and guys were holding each other accountable and that’s what a family does.”
Woodward was also a member of the 2019 Blitz Border Bowl staff.
When’s the big game?
We already gave y’all the rundown over their rivalry with Calvary Day during our 15 for 15 on the Cavaliers, so let’s pick something else, shall we?
The Raiders’ opening game on Aug. 19 against Hilton Head Christian Academy promises to be an interesting one. HHCA is coming off back-to-back SCISA state titles.
Savannah Christian is 12-6 all-time against programs from South Carolina. Although this is the first time that the Raiders have played HHCA, they have a wealth of experience playing against fellow Lowcountry SCISA title winner Thomas Heyward Academy. Those two squads have clashed nine times, although the last one was in 1983.
That game with Hilton Head Christian will be in Savannah. SCPS will get its turn to cross the bridge into the Lowcountry when they play Battery Creek on Sept. 9.