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?

The path to the playoffs is no longer set in stone for the Islands Sharks.

Previously, Islands was in a four-team region, which guaranteed them a spot in the postseason. Now the Sharks will contend with a six-team region, keeping games against New Hampstead and Benedictine on the schedule while welcoming new opponents Southeast Bulloch, Wayne County and Burke County.

“Our mindset is great,” said head coach DeShawn Printup. “We’re going to compete and looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good test for us to go into the tough region that we’re in. We’re no longer in that four-team region. So we went out and scheduled some harder opponents to make sure we’re ready for that region run and that playoff run after that.”

“I honestly think the four teams that come out of our region are going to be playoff contenders.”

Islands will have to make that playoff run without some of the stalwarts that have led the team for the last few years. Top wide receiver/defensive back Langston Lewis graduated and is off to play football at Central Michigan. Hard-nosed linebacker and unofficial “Team’s Strongest Man” title-holder Cooper Bachman also graduated.

“We’re looking good,” said senior Roland Ferguson, who is the player most likely to step into Lewis’ position on the roster. ” We have a young team, most definitely. I feel like with the right dedication, we’ll come together, everybody will do their part and we’ll come to a good, positive season.”

Who are your dudes?

It seems like every school we visit for 15 for 15 has an imposing interior lineman, and Islands is no different with Sha’ron McGert plugging the middle of the formation.

McGert had 10 tackles for loss in 2021 and hopes that another strong performance in 2022 could get parlayed into some college offers.

“Really, I need to be more in shape,” McGert said. “I got tired on the field last year, so the scouts want to see me going non-stop.”

One player that McGert looked to for inspiration in his journey is Damonte Smith, the former Islands star that is now at Middle Tennessee.

Smith and McGert are close and the latter learned a lot by watching the former.

“He is my inspiration. I get a lot of my moves from him because he’s so dominant. So I study him and study his moves to see how I can make it perfect so I can do what I do.”

What’s up with your coach?

Islands is not a very old program – they’ve only been playing competitive football since 2014. DeShawn Printup is just the third coach since then.

Printup led the Islands to its first and only winning season in 2020, as well as its first playoff win against Hardaway, which was also in 2020.

When he spoke to WSAV at practice, Printup said he was dealing with an unusual problem: a helmet shortage that forced him to rearrange practice and limit the amount of simultaneous contact drills happening.

“The biggest thing is these guys, they don’t use it as an excuse,” Printup said. “They can’t use it as a crutch because everyone has that issue. Now I’m excited to see how they bounce back from that adversity.”

The players seem up to that challenge and completely behind their coach.

“He’s a wonderful coach, he’s been by my side since I’ve been here,” Ferguson said. “He’s helped me, developed me, he’s been the best coach I’ve had.”

When’s the big game?

Not to keep hammering the trend of “everyone’s biggest game is Week 1,” but the story for Islands’ first matchup against Calvary Day on Aug. 19 practically writes itself.

Calvary Day offensive coordinator Russell DeMasi, who just joined the staff over the summer, is the son of former Islands athletic director Karl DeMasi.

“I feel like they’ve got a lot of hatred toward us because of what happened when we played them my freshman year,” McGert said.

Islands defeated Calvary Day 42-21 the last time the teams played in 2019, but had to forfeit that win and three others due to recruiting violations.

The Cavaliers are far from the only private school on the Sharks’ schedule; they face off against Savannah Christian on Aug. 26, then close the regular season on Oct. 28 with Benedictine.