Here is my extremely early Midlands Top 15 football teams.
1. Spring Valley Vikings – I like the talent the Vikings have returning, despite losing their quarterback and two key specimens on defense. This team is loaded defensively and, if they can find a quarterback to execute the flexbone, first-year coach Jerry Brown could be back in the championship this year.
2. Dutch Fork – The defending state champions must fill the quarterback spot, as well as key components of the line on both sides. The Midlands’ most exciting player, running back Matthew Colburn, returns to lead the offense.
3. Blythewood – This is a bold pick to put the Bengals this high, this early. I like their rising junior quarterback, and I especially like their defense, led by linebacker Hassan Belton and corner Dominique Lemon.
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4. Lexington – This might be a high for the Wildcats after losing Will Hunter at quarterback. Thehey have no quarterback in waiting, and that will be the challenge. They are talented at wide receiver, and even more talented in the secondary.
5. A.C. Flora – Second-year coach Reggie Shaw has the Falcons primed and ready for a great season. Returning quarterback Brendan Green leads the offense. The Falcon defense will be very strong, with Denzell Johnson, Rion Davis, Tylel Gray and lineman Tyrell Goodwin being the senior leaders.
6. Westwood – Finding a running back will be big task; solid in skills positions on both sides of the football.
7. Irmo – No coach as of yet, but what we do know is there are holes all over both sides of the football.
8. Fairfield Central – Will miss their quarterback and running back, regardless of how much talent they have returning.
9 .Brookland-Cayce Bearcats – Answer the question at quarterback, and this team could surprise a lot of people.
10. Batesburg-Leesville – Loaded with talent but will miss coach Brown, who has moved to Spring Valley.
11. Airport – Young talent will lead the team, and some schematic changes will make them less predictable.
12. Swansea – Will need to find that one big threat on offense. Strong on defense.
13. Ridge View – Strong skills on both sides of the football. Playing tough region schedule.
14. Keenan – Underrated, and could be surprise of the Midlands – loaded on both sides of the football.
15. Lower Richland – This is a team with very good impact players; could challenge for region crown.