Across the Midlands, high school football teams are breaking out the helmets and practice jerseys for spring football. S.C. High School League schools were allowed to begin practice on Wednesday. Regardless of where they finished at the end of the 2012 season, this year’s squads are starting with the same end in mind: championships. Though they all hope to reach the same destination, the paths for Midlands teams will be different. Here’s a look at a few of the story lines for this spring.
Getting with the program
Blythewood, White Knoll, Lexington, and A.C. Flora are among the local teams under new direction. White Knoll’s new top play-caller, Dean Howell, had success at his previous post at A.C. Flora, and hopes his ability to inspire and motivate athletes will transfer to the Timberwolves, who are coming off one of the best seasons in program history. He is not the only coach looking to start getting players into a new system this month. Reggie Shaw will be conducting practices at A.C. Flora; Dan Morgan at Blythewood; and Josh Stepp at Lexington.
Getting their backs up
The 2012 season saw strong rushing games from several area teams, but many of the top performers were seniors — Gilbert’s Omar Bethea, Ben Lippen’s Tyler Renew and White Knoll’s Lamar Ray among them. These programs are tasked with replacing major offensive production, and spring practice is the time for young team members to begin distinguishing themselves. At Dutch Fork, the Silver Foxes know rising junior Matt Colburn should be a major force in their running game. In his sophomore season, Colburn helped propel the Silver Foxes to the state finals with 1,444 yards in six starts.
Who’s your passer?
Many area teams will be watching to see who their best choice under center might be for the 2013 season. A.C. Flora will look for someone to step into big-play maker Jake Lewis’ cleats, and Lower Richland will look for a player who can drive its offense like Marcus Edmond did. At Irmo, coach Bob Hanna needs someone to own the quarterback position, which Grant Davitte held in 2012. Demetrius Lewis might be the frontrunner. As a junior, he posted 388 yards and two passing touchdowns in limited action behind Davitte.
Drawing the line
Ridge View is losing a substantial portion of its defensive line, including Curtis Bey and Obinna Ntiasagwe, a pair of all-stars who accounted for nearly 20 sacks. This spring, the Blazers look for players with the size and skill needed to get Ridge View back to the playoffs.
Catching a peek
Several area programs will close their spring practice with an intrasquad scrimmage. The admission costs are small and team booster clubs might run fundraisers through concessions sales. For the football-starved and the home-team obsessed, mid-May will offer a great opportunity to see and support local athletes and teams. Among the many teams who will be in action on the final day of spring practice, Blythewood hosts its annual game on May 21at 6:30 p.m.