As we hit the midseason and region play is set to begin, it is time to look at which Midlands team has the best chance at getting the farthest in the 2015 state playoffs. Do any have a chance at a title?
1. BATESBURG-LEESVILLE — The Panthers play in the most competitive region in the state, where there are four teams who could be title contenders. That said, behind the power of Terrance Wilson’s running prowess and the coaching of one of the state’s brightest young minds, Perry Woolbright, this team has the best chance in the Midlands of claiming a state crown.
2. FAIRFIELD-CENTRAL — While the Griffins have the dubious honor of being in the same division as powerhouse Dillon, they do have the talent to get deep in the playoffs and potentially back to a title game. Their ground game is strong and they play a physical brand of football. I like them as at least a third-round team.
3. DUTCH FORK SILVER FOXES — The Foxes are beginning to find their groove and while this offense is totally different from the past three title-appearance teams, it is one that can get them there if complimented by defense. The key to this team’s success, as always, is the preparation and leadership of Tom Knotts.
4. LEXINGTON WILDCATS — Consistency will be key for this team to maintain a deep playoff run. Offensively, they have the weapons to make it happen. But as talented as they are on offense, I think it will be the defense and special teams that enables them. They have the ability to stop offenses and they also have the ability to flip the field on anyone with their outstanding kicking game.
5. AIRPORT EAGLES — Speed kills and there is little doubt in my mind that this team has as much speed as any team in the Midlands. Quarterback Josh Tucker is the best dual threat I’ve seen at the school since Levi Raines in 2000. The defense is fast and takes away the edge. I think this team is the third best in the 3A lower state behind Hartsville and Myrtle Beach.