Baxter: Small schools make big noise

08/24/2014 6:47 PM

08/24/2014 6:51 PM

Region 3-2A will be tough this year, and we’ve already gotten a glimpse of what things could look like from preseason and Week 0 games.

Fairfield Central lost a lot of talent, but running back Joe Young is a solid game-changer and will make a difference. The Griffins are the team to beat in the region.

Mid-Carolina might be the most improved team in the region. They are physical and have several talented skills players. Junior running back Trey Green is going to draw attention once coaches begin to see him play. Keenan is another team loaded with talent, with several players who will be playing at the next level. Senior offensive lineman Justice Worley might be the top lineman in the Midlands.

Pelion looks to be athletic and should be stronger than last year’s team, which peaked late. A healthy Freddie Phillips on offense and defense makes this team a contender for the region.

Eau Claire and Columbia will battle for the bottom of the region standings. Newberry is an early favorite along with the Griffins.

Region Preseason Player of the Year: Freddie Phillips, wide receiver/safety, Pelion

Region Preseason Sleeper Player to Watch: Trey Green, running back, Mid-Carolina

Region predictions: 1. Newberry 2. Fairfield Central 3. Pelion 4. Mid-Carolina 5. Keenan 6. Eau Claire 7. Columbia

The Batesburg-Leesville Panthers are the only Midlands 2A team not in Region 3. The Panthers will compete in Region 2, which is regarded at the most competitive in the state this season. While the Panthers have one of 2A’s top players in junior running back Terrance Wilson, they are facing off with the state’s top 2A programs. They will contend, but it will be crowded in the race for that crown.

Region 2-2A predictions: 1. Strom Thurmond 2. Batesburg-Leesville 3. Abbeville 4. Ninety Six 5. Crescent 6. Saluda

The C.A. Johnson Hornets and the Calhoun County Saints are the only two Midlands Class A teams, and both will have a tough row to hoe to challenge for a region crown. The Hornets lost a lot of talent to graduation and will more than likely finish third spot among Great Falls, Lamar, Lewisville, and McBee in Region 3. Calhoun County will compete in Region 4 and will be looking at a no-higher-than fourth-place finish among Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, Blackvile-Hilda, Wagener Salley, Williston-Elko, and North.

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