Brad Bowles’ first year as a head football coach at St. John’s High School started slowly but is ending with a Region 6-A championship and playoff appearance.

The Islanders breezed through region play with a 4-0 record, but the start of the season produced just one win in four games. To make matters worse, the three losses were by a combined 107-13 score.

“I learned a lot this season,” said Bowles, who took the job after serving on Chuck Reedy’s staff at Goose Creek. “One of the biggest things I learned, when things were going tough early, was that I had to stick with what I believed in. There are times when you get antsy and do something different. But that sets you back. It takes the kids back.”

The Islanders survived the rough start and finished with four region victories in their last five games. The victories included a decision over defending Division II-A state champ Cross and a decisive victory over Lincoln in the regular-season finale.

The reward is a home date against Hemingway Friday night in the first round of the Division II-A state playoffs.

“At the beginning of the season, we set some goals and one of the goals was to make the playoffs with the people we had in place,” Bowles said. “Graduation was extremely tough and only three or four guys were returning starters. We had 18 new starters who had to step up. I’m excited to see how well the team is playing.”

Trevson Coakley has led the offense, rushing for 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns. The senior was selected to play in the Dec. 14 North-South all-star game.

The Islanders are seeking their first state title since 1968, one of four times they played in the big game under legendary coach Bob Biggerstaff.

“Our long-term goal is to be a state contender year in, year out,” Bowles said. “We don’t want to take a step back. We have to get better in everything we do. Achieving that begins in the offseason in the weight room.”

SCISA Stars

The South Carolina Independent Schools Association (SCISA) recently held its all-star volleyball games.

Team SCISA beat its Georgia counterparts 3-0. Local players on the SCISA team include Dalya Amer and Anna Shepherd Wyndham, Ashley Hall; Jamie McClean, Colleton Prep; and Jordan McLawhorn and Katie Blitch, First Baptist.

The SCISA North-South games were also held.

Local players on the South Class AAA team included Eden Crowell, Northwood Academy; Stevie DeSimmone, Hilton Head Christian; Kaylee Kemp, Pinewood Prep; Chelsea McKelvey, Gracie Mogul and Marla Sagatelian, Porter-Gaud; Lauren Percy, Ashley Hall; and Emily Peters and McKala Rhodes, First Baptist.

Local players on the Class AA-A South roster include Madison Laporte, Cathedral Academy; Caroline Rathman, Palmetto Christian; and Miranda Weslake, Beaufort Academy.

Region III-AAA stars

First Baptist junior McKala Rhodes was named the volleyball player of the year in SCISA Region III-AAA and Megan Parkerson of state champion Porter-Gaud was named coach of the year.

Joining Rhodes on the all-star team are Emily Peters, First Baptist; Kaylee Kemp, Pinewood Prep; Eden Crowell, Northwood; Stevie DeSimmone, Hilton Head Christian; Gracie Mogul, Marla Sagatelian and Chelsea McKelvey, Porter Gaud; Lauren Percy, Anna Sheppard Wyndham and Dalya Amer, Ashley Hall.