BATESBURG-Leesville won the Class 2A, Div. II championship last season under Jerry Brown, who has since become the coach at Spring Valley.
This season’s B-L team returns many starters for new coach Perry Woolbright, formerly at North Myrtle Beach High.
“We return a lot of key players from last year’s title team, and they have adjusted very well to the new offense and defensive systems,” Woolbright said.
“We’ll play a very tough non-region schedule to prepare us for the toughest region in the state.”
The offense will have a completely different look, going from the flexbone to the spread. It will return seven starters, including one of the state’s top running backs, junior Terrance Wilson, who rushed for 1,157 yards and 23 touchdowns.
At wide receiver, seniors Dashaun Stroman and Austin Coleman will be the go-to targets.
Up front, the Panthers return four — Morgan Bryant, Braylen Cumbee, Jaylen Rouch, and Paul McKiever.
The defense also returns seven starters, but only one up front: defensive end McKiever.
Seniors Austin Coleman and Mitchell Cobb return at linebacker.
The secondary will be strong with junior Jaquarius Hair at cornerback, senior Daniel Burton at corner, senior Savier Mackie at strong safety, and senior Dontavious Morris at free safety.
Donte Johnson will step up on the offensive line, junior Kobe Long will play inside linebacker, and senior Taylor Jackson will take the reins at quarterback.