Lexington coach Perry Woolbright gets to do a little something different in his second season at the helm of the Wildcats.
With realignment taking shape starting in the 2018 season and the point system for the postseason no longer a factor, Lexington will face county rivals but schools in smaller classifications with Batesburg-Leesville and Gilbert on the schedule. The Wildcats used to play Batesburg-Leesville on a regular basis, but this will be the first time Lexington and Gilbert will face each in football.
“We’ve scrimmaged Gilbert over the years, but this will be the first time we’ve played during the season,” Woolbright said on the eve of the season-opener against Irmo. “Chad (Leaphart) has a solid program that is doing a lot of great things right now. It’s good for the community. It’s a natural fit. It’s important for us to get good games against good competition before region play and this offers all of that.”
The Wildcats will be looking to improve on a 7-5 finish in Woolbright’s first season. Sophomore Cal Herndon is expected to start at quarterback. He was the starter on the junior varsity last season but did practice most of the year with the varsity so he’s comfortable in the system.
Senior Akeem Nicholas will likely be the featured back. Senior Jordan Hiller played a lot of running back last season, but he’s moved to wide receiver to help bolster the Lexington attack. Senior William Crouch also returns at receiver.
“Herndon brings plenty of athleticism to the quarterback position,” Woolbright said. “The more snaps he gets, the better he will get. We lost our two slot receivers from last year, so we thought moving Jordan there would help us get our best players on the field.”
The offensive line could be a strength with 4 of the 5 starters returning. Senior Hampton Ergle will lead the way.
Defensively, the Wildcats will be strong at linebacker. Junior David Cromer and senior Logan Cripe return and will help bring some of the younger players along.
The Wildcats are in the same region with two-time defending state champion Dutch Fork and the Silver Foxes are considered the favorites going into the season. But Woolbright believes second place is up for grabs between his squad and Chapin, River Bluff and White Knoll.
“It’s going to be a battle each week,” he said. “Dutch Fork would have to be considered at the top right now with what they’ve accomplished. After that, whoever plays the best on a given Friday night will probably win. I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between the other four teams in the region.”
Coach: Perry Woolbright (2nd year)
Last year’s record: 7-5
Number of starters returning: 10
Key returning players: Logan Cripe LB, David Cromer LB, William Crouch WR, Hampton Ergle OT
Newcomers to watch: Coleman Vancoutren DB, Bradley Foulks WR, Elliott Herndon WR
Aug 17: at Irmo
Aug 24: vs Dreher
Aug 31: vs Gilbert
Sept 7: vs South Aiken
Sept 14: at Batesburg-Leesville
Sept 21: vs Spring Valley
Sept 28: at White Knoll
Oct 12: vs Dutch Fork
Oct 19: at Chapin
Oct 26: vs River Bluff