COACH: Shell Dula LAST SEASON: 11-2 overall, 5-0 in Region 1; lost to Clover in second round of Class 4A Division II playoffs
KEY RETURNERS: DE Sam Montgomery, FS D.J. Sweainger, DB Byron Best
WHY GREENWOOD? Montgomery (6-foot-5, 245) had 65 tackles, including 15 for a loss, and 12 sacks last season. He anchors a defense that allowed 12.2 points a game in 2007. He has several Division I offers, including from Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and South Carolina.
COACH: Phil Strickland LAST SEASON: 11-3 overall, 5-1 in Region 2; Lost to Summerville in semifinals of playoffs
KEY RETURNERS: RB Jeremiah Cochran, OL Denzelle Good, WR Emison Hughes, WR Jeffrey Brown, QB Joe Craig
WHY GAFFNEY? Excitement and great expectations surround the Indians as they move into Region 3 and move into their new stadium. The squad will be young, with sophomores getting a good deal of playing time, but they will gain experience playing a rigorous nonregion schedule that includes Region 2 squads Dorman, Byrnes and Spartanburg. The offense should hit the ground running. Led by Cochran, the Indians gained 2,662 yards on 573 carries last season.
COACH: Dave Gutshall LAST SEASON: 10-3 overall, 4-2 in Region 2; lost to Byrnes in second round of playoffs
KEY RETURNERS: TE Brandon Thomas, CB Taylor Sowell, WR/CB Walt Canty, OL Malcolm Boyd, K Bo Lindsey.
WHY DORMAN? The Cavaliers allowed 10.1 points per game last season, making it the top unit in Class 4A. To maintain that ranking, the Cavaliers will need solid play from Sowell and Canty and a breakout season from Ash Butler, who replaces Christian Graham at running back. Last season, Dorman averaged 5 yards per carry and scored 33 rushing touchdowns with Graham as the primary back.
COACH: Bobby Carroll LAST SEASON: 9-4 overall, 4-2 in Region 3; lost to Berkeley in second round of playoffs
KEY RETURNERS: ATH Stephon Gilmore, RB Devin Whery, WR Charles Holmes, FS Devonte Holloman, DB Pat Burris, LB Pete Roseboro, TE Ryan Heitkamp
WHY SOUTH POINTE? The Stallions have a bunch of three-year starters, led by one of the state’s premier talents, Gilmore. The squad has to fill holes on the offensive line and in the secondary but returns all of its skill players. South Pointe employs a run-based attack, but with Holmes at receiver and Gilmore in the pocket, it can move the ball through the air, too. Tight end Heitkamp (6-5, 225) gives the Stallions an extra edge.
— Akilah Imani Nelson