REGION 4-4A WILL be interesting this season, with defending 4A-DI champion Dutch Fork moving back into the conference. Last year’s region champion, Spring Valley, along with the Silver Foxes, should be the frontrunners.
Dutch Fork is unsettled at quarterback, but set at running back as All-State runner Matt Colburn returns. Defensively, the Foxes should be stout, led by linebacker Mick Lusk, linebacker/defensive back Stephen Davis and safety Lane Ecton.
As for the Vikings, they have some work to do to have a shot at repeating as region champs. For one, the quarterback position is not solidified. Yes, they have a starter in junior Ryan Lee, who will split time with juniors Mark Rew and Kevin Owens, but none of them have demonstrated the ability to execute the flexbone like it was last season. Defensively, the Vikings should be solid, with Ja’lon and Jordan Williams as leaders, as well as safety Tyler Frazier.
Blythewood could be a sleeper, though I don’t expect the Bengals to win the region. Coach Dan Morgan has a solid group of returners, led by junior quarterback David Isreal. They will have a solid run attack with junior Osei Thomas. Defensively, the Bengals are loaded with one of the state’s best linebackers in Hasaan Belton and top defensive backs in Dominique Lemon. I also look for D’Andre Fletcher to be a solid cornerback.
Westwood moves up to the Class 4A and could be a team to watch. Quarterback Nick Leveretter has worked hard in the offseason to improve himself and has won the starting job. A surprise for the Red Hawks could be the play of junior running back Andrew Plante, and there is depth at the position. They are set at wide receiver, led by senior Adonis Lee.
Ridge View won three games last season, and all three wins came against teams with losing records. The Blazers lost key talent to graduation and transfer and will struggle because of that. Offensive lineman Dennis Daley is one bright spot on an offense with five returning starters. Defensively, the Blazers return seven starters, but they have to support an offense that averaged 18 points per game last season.
The Lugoff-Elgin Demons have struggled for several years and, unfortunately, those struggles are likely to continue. First-year coach Dave Thomas, who was the defensive coordinator in 2013, will have the task of trying to build a productive offense. Last season, the offense averaged less than 18 points per game and often left the defense stranded. The Demons will look for junior athlete Gunnar Catoe to be a major contributor this year. After playing, primarily, defense last season, Catoe will be called upon to take reps at quarterback, as well as receiver. The offensive line could be one of the best the Demons have had in a long while.