High school sports commentary

Football favorites, Part II: Griffins seek title game return

April 14, 2013 

THE KICKOFF FOR the 2013 football season is 130 days away. Last week, we talked about the top teams in the Midlands in Class 4A and 3A. Today, I want to take a look at the Midlands contenders from Class 2A, A and SCISA.

At the top is Fairfield Central. Last year’s Class 2A Division I state runners-up lost 21-6 to Dillon in the title game. The 2013 campaign will see coach Demetrius Davis’ team return a wealth of talent, including quarterback DeAndre Belton. This 5-foot-8, 170-pound sparkplug led the Griffins with 2,644 yards of offense and 29 touchdowns. He was a major cog in an offense that averaged 38 points per game. The Griffins return most of their defense, which yielded 12 points per game prior to the state final. Class 2A is going to be strong again in 2013, but the Griffins are going to be a favorite in the Upstate.

The Columbia Capitals struggled last season and finished 4-7 after losing to Newberry in the playoffs. The key this year will be the play of quarterback William Gosset and whether or not their offensive line can mature. Last season, Gosset played in two games in place of injured starter Anthony Brown and rushed for more than 200 yards. Between he and running backs Loren Mack and Kamani Shaw, and wide receiver DeAnte Petruso, look for a lot more offense in 2012. Defensively, the Capitals need to fill holes at linebacker, but defensive tackle Antwon Sullivan will be a monster in the trenches.

The Keenan Raiders had a coaching change, but the talent is still there as they have a wealth of experience returning from the 2014 and 2015 classes. Last season, the Raiders went 7-5 and won a first-round playoff game. They return their most productive offensive star in Peter Easaw, who rushed for 1,147 yards and 14 TDs, had 400 yards receiving and 3 TDs, five kick returns for scores and two more on punt returns. He also played defensive back for the Raiders. They will be strong on defense with rising senior defensive end Rhyheem Rushing returning to anchor the front, while rising junior linebackers Kendrick Gathers and Richard Lawhorn return on the second line of defense. I look for the Raiders to battle with Columbia for the second spot in the region behind Fairfield.

In SCISA, the rich will continue to get richer.

The Hammond Skyhawks, who did not win the SCISA 3A title for the first time in seven years, will come back in 2013. Already with strong talent moving up from the 2015 class at quarterback, the Skyhawks got a transfer in the form of quarterback Davis King (6-5, 215) from Westwood High. They already have SCISA’s top tight end in Cannon Smith. Filling the void left by the graduation of running back Quayshon Myers will be a tall order. Look for the Skyhawks to again be a contender for the 3A crown.

Ben Lippen suffered through adversity in a 3-7 season in 2012, but coach Reggie Shaw can motivate players when times are tough. Next season, the Falcons will miss running back Tyler Renew, who signed with The Citadel. But returning quarterback Robert Barrow, along with rising sophomore Alec Deboer at wide receiver, will give the Falcons some firepower. They return all but one offensive lineman. On defense, the Falcons lost one defensive back and will have to replace a couple at linebacker and defensive line. Look for the Falcons to be a much improved team.

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