BAXTER’S BLITZ

Tune in here for your prep football fix

Jim Baxter / High SchoolsAugust 9, 2012 

Columnist for Midlandspreps.com, Jim Baxter.

KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN — kkfoster@thestate.com Buy Photo

WE LOVE football. It is a focal point of our lives from August through January. Our weekly calendars follow the schedule of high school, college and pro games.

For the 2012 football season, I will be delivering your fix, so to speak. Twice a week (Thursdays and Mondays), I’ll be reviewing, previewing, breaking down, evaluating and making predictions on all things high school football related in South Carolina.

From power shifts in regions, state action breakdowns, and player evaluations from future phenoms to the household names, if it has to with Palmetto state prep football, I’ll cover it.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, email me at scvarsity@sc.rr.com.

WHO’S BEST IN THE MIDLANDS?

The big question from everyone is: “Does the Midlands have a contender for the state championship?”

My answer, unfortunately, is no.

The best team in the Midlands right now is the Dutch Fork Silver Foxes. They lost one of the top offensive players in the state in running back Brandon Quattlebaum, who was a Shrine Bowl-caliber player who had a huge impact on the offense.

Coach Tom Knotts has done a phenomenal job of redirecting that program, but the strength of the upper echelon programs in 4A will be too much to overcome. I like their junior quarterback Derrek Olenchuk and believe that going to a one-quarterback system will bring more consistency to the offense.

They will play St Xavier (Ky.) in the opening game. The teams are similar, so it should be a great game. Dutch Fork should finish as good as 9-1. I see them as a team that could get to the third round of the playoffs, but I don’t think they are quite ready to kick the door in on the title game.

MY MIDLANDS TOP 10 TEAMS

1. Dutch Fork; 2. Lexington; 3. Blythewood; 4. Irmo; 5. Airport; 6. A.C. Flora; 7. Columbia; 8. Lower Richland; 9. Spring Valley; 10. (tie) White Knoll and Ridge View

MIDLANDS REGION PREDICTIONS

Region 4-4A: Blythewood comes out of the gate as the favorite in this region, but look for Irmo to challenge for the region crown. I like the Yellow Jackets’ quarterback, Grant Davitte, who finished No. 2 overall in the recent QB1 Challenge. With the Jackets going to the Pistol offense this season, we could see them open it up more . Picks: 1. Irmo; 2. Blythewood; 3. Spring Valley; 4. Ridge View; 5. Richland Northeast; 6. Lugoff-Elgin

Region 5-4A: Dutch Fork is the team to beat. With experience at quarterback and good surrounding talent, they should see challenges from only Lexington and North Augusta. The Wildcats must find a solid replacement for Kevin Miller. Picks: 1. Dutch Fork; 2. Lexington; 3. North Augusta; 4. White Knoll; 5. (tie) South Aiken and Aiken

Region 4-3A: This is an intriguing region. A.C. Flora has the tools to be a favorite in the region, with impact player Schroder Carlton coming back at wide receiver and a running back in Keith Goss who, if he plays to potential, could be one of the Midlands’ best. Lower Richland has a new coach, Daryl Page. He will open up the Diamond Hornets’ offense. Look for athlete Marcus Edmond to play a much larger offensive role for LR. Picks: 1. A.C. Flora; 2. Lower Richland; 3. Chapin; 4. Dreher; 5. Camden; 6. Westwood

Region 5-3A: Airport is the top Midlands team in this region, but the Eagles lost a lot of players to graduation. They must pick a quarterback from four capable candidates. Picks: 1. Strom Thurmond; 2. Airport; 3. Swansea 4. Brookland-Cayce 5. Midland Valley 6. Gilbert

Region 2-2A: Saluda will be better than last season and Mid-Carolina will be solid. Newberry is the team to beat in the region, despite Abbeville returning to 2A this season. Picks: 1. Newberry 2; Abbeville; 3. Saluda; 4. Mid-Carolina; 5. Batesburg-Leesville; 6. Ninety-Six

Region 3-2A: Columbia and Fairfield Central will battle it out for the top spot . The Caps are going to be strong at the skill spots with a surprise senior quarterback. Picks: 1. Columbia; 2. Fairfield-Central; 3. Keenan; 4. North Central; 5. Pelion; 6. Eau Claire.

Read Baxter’s Blitz at midlandspreps.com and follow him on twitter @scvarsity

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