AS SPRING practice drills begin, I visited Spring Valley, the program at the top of my Midlands Top 15 list.
The Vikings worked out in helmets, as required by the SCHSL rules.
The Vikings bring in a new head coach, Dr. Jerry Brown, who led Batesburg-Leesville to the Class A state title last season. Brown led the Vikings to the Class 4A state title in 1988. He is the first coach in South Carolina high school history to capture state titles at three schools, and he has done it at three classifications.
While the Vikings offense will miss the services of running back John Miller, they have enough skills players to allow them to challenge for region and state titles. Fullback Alec Koon returns to be a force at the B-back position of the flexbone offense, which was orchestrated brilliantly last season by offensive coordinator Robin Bacon. Other solid backs who can fill the A-back roles include Ty’Juan Fulton, Jordan Williams, Ryan Lee and Bryson Williams, who was an eight-quarter player in 2013 and led the JV in touchdowns.
At wide receiver, senior Jordan Foster is one of the state’s best. He is joined by Jaron Ricks and R.J. Bacon.
The two big areas of focus on offense are quarterback and offensive line. Lee has the skills to play the flexbone offense, and looks to lead the candidates for that spot. The line will have Kendrick Smith returning at guard, as well as Andrew Laulusa. But they must find players to fill the voids created at graduation.
Defensively, the Vikings took a big hit at linebacker. When Josh Harlan and Christian Miller graduated, they took with them more than 300 tackles. The front will be strong, anchored by two very good ends in Ja’Lon Williams and Davon Keith.
Jordan Williams, who will play running back as well, returns at outside linebacker but will need more help in the middle third of this defense.
The secondary has two of the best safeties in the state. Tyler Frazier, who recently blew up big numbers at the SCV All-State Football Combine, is joined by Demarcus Muscove. This is the best safety combination in the Midlands, and perhaps the state.