TIME FOR THE Blitz to open the mail bag and answer a few questions:
QUESTION: With basketball season in full swing, who do you see as the top teams in the Midlands and which have a shot at a state title?
ANSWER: All we have are the holiday tournaments and a handful of “real” games to go on, but I think we have to start with Irmo. They are 10-3 with wins over Spring Valley and Dreher, and beat a good Ridge View team on Tuesday. Teams like Hillcrest are going to be a factor in the playoffs, but Irmo has a shot.
I would say that Hammond, behind Irmo, has to be the second team on my list. It has a quality win over Dreher and should be the favorite in SCISA Class 3A. A.C. Flora won the Newberry Christmas Tournament and went to Atlanta for a tournament and went 2-1 against tough competition. I still like Spring Valley, as well, as one of the top teams in our area with a chance to make noise in the postseason.
QUESTION: Who are the top boys’ players in the Midlands?
ANSWER: I like Seventh Woods (Hammond), P.J. Dozier and Jordan Bruner (Spring Valley), Tevin Mack (Dreher), and Davontae Shuler (Irmo). Turning heads early are Karl Gamble and Kendell Hampton (A.C. Flora), Thomas Knight (White Knoll), Tariq Simmons (Keenan), Marquise Riley (Richland Northeast), and Jordan Davis (Dutch Fork).
QUESTION: Who would you say is the state’s top football prospect in 2016, and do we have any players in the Midlands who you think could be that guy?
ANSWER: I think that, as of this moment, the top prospect is Spartanburg running back Tavien Feaster. He’s 5-foot-11, 200 pounds and lethal in the ground game and as a receiver.
In the Midlands, Stephen Davis of Dutch Fork is not far behind Feaster. At 6-2, 215, Davis, who is committed to Auburn, could move into the top spot. Auburn says they like him as a safety, but I think he could develop into a strong outside linebacker.