Jim Baxter answers selected questions from Twitter followers:
Q: Do the Midlands schools have any players who could win Mr. Football this year?
A: Mr. Football is going to be a tough decision this season. I believe the best candidate the Midlands will have will be Spring Valley’s Christian Miller, and I think he’s a long shot. Typically, you’re looking at high profile players who stand out on and off of the field for the Coaches Association award. For that reason, we usually see offensive skills players in the top spots. This is a strong year for players who fit that bill.
In the running, we’ll see quarterbacks Shuler Bentley of Byrnes, Mason Rudolph of Northwestern and Jacob Park of Stratford. I will not be surprised to see Gaffney wide receiver Shaq Davidson in the running, either. A sleeper for this award could be Chapman back Deebo Samuel, who is having a great season on both sides of the football. As deep in talent as the state is in offensive skills, I just don’t see a defensive guy winning.
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Q: What do you think about the 2-1 Ridge View Blazers and how will they do in the region and playoffs?
A: Ridge View has played better than I expected them to early, but I’m not convinced that they have played high caliber competition yet. They were beaten in the closing minutes by Lexington, but Lexington team was dominated by Blazer region foe Spring Valley.
The region will be tough. I see Spring Valley as the clear favorite. The fight is going to be for the No. 2 spot, where Blythewood might be the favorite. Irmo could end up as a contender for the region, as they typically start slow and finish strong.
As long as the Blazers can take care of business out of region, they may garner enough points to slip into the playoffs on points. To get the automatic slot, I believe they’d have to beat at least one if not both Blythewood and Irmo, assuming Spring Valley runs the table in the region. I think Ridge View must get better on the offense to compete.
Q: What is going on at Airport this year? Are they going to win any more games?
A: Let’s not abandon the ship yet. I don’t think they are as bad as their record leads you to believe. The Eagles are 1-2 with close losses to a good Brookland-Cayce team and a better-than-average 4A team in White Knoll. Those two losses were by a margin of five points total.
This team has suffered attrition at key spots and it doesn’t have seasoned players filling those voids. They are having to use two quarterbacks to get complete offensive production and they haven’t found a running back who is a “threat on every touch” type of player.
I believe they’ll recover, improve as the season goes on, and be a contender for the No. 2 or 3 spot in the region by season’s end.