FORTY-FOUR OF the state’s top players in the eyes of the S.C. high school football coaches will play against an all-star team from North Carolina on Saturday, including seven Midlands players.
Irmo is the only team from the Midlands with two representatives, placing defensive end/linebacker Darius Wright and kicker/punter Ben Hinson. Wright, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive end for the Yellow Jackets, finished the season with 55 tackles, 22 for loss and 10 sacks. He’s a physical player and plays with the same fire that his father, Frank Wright (Greenwood, USC) played with in high school. Darius can play back at linebacker or move up to the line and be ferocious off of the edge.
Hinson was a two-time player of the week for SCVarsity.com and was a weapon with his ball placement on punts and kicks. Fifty percent of his kicks were touchbacks, and he averaged 41 yards per punt.
The other Midlands players:
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Dutch Fork defensive end Jamar Winston: A 6-8, 260-pound end for the Silver Foxes who turned heads this year as he continues to develop. The Charlotte commitment finished the season with 82 tackles, 10 for loss, and 6 sacks. He’s long and rangy and has a big upside with the potential to develop as a player and mature physically.
Lexington offensive lineman Jonathan Boring: Boring, who committed to Troy, is a 6-5, 278-pound tackle who engages well off the snap, gets his hands on his opponent quickly and moves his feet constantly. He’ll need to get stronger and more physical but has a good future if he puts forth the work.
Ridge View defensive end Curtis Bey: He finished the season with 64 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. At 6-2, 270, he will more than likely play inside at defensive tackle at the next level and might do the same Saturday.
Swansea linebacker Byron Johnson: He is a strong defensive presence with good instincts and closing speed. He led the team with 75 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and five sacks. He also is dangerous on offense as a receiver, with 34 receptions for 430 yards and eight touchdowns. He is committed to Furman.
White Knoll tight end Alex Brown: He is a versatile, jumbo athlete. At 6-2, 240, Brown possesses strong blocking skills and is athletic enough to move through defensive coverage and get open. He has soft hands and makes a good possession target downfield. His height is not ideal for protypical tight ends at the next level, but for the offense Navy runs, where he has committed, he could fit well at that spot.
Joining the Midlands players will be Airport coach Kirk Burnette, who is coaching quarterbacks for the Sandlappers. Since arriving at Airport as the AD/football coach in 2004, Burnette’s teams have won three region titles, had the school’s first undefeated regular season in 2009 and made eight consecutive playoff appearances.