High School Football

The State’s way-too-early Midlands Top 10 high school football preseason poll

Watch: Dutch Fork football celebrates third straight title

Dutch Fork defeated TL Hanna 59-20 to win Class 5A football championship on Dec. 7, 2018.
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Dutch Fork defeated TL Hanna 59-20 to win Class 5A football championship on Dec. 7, 2018.

An early look at preseason Top 10 Midlands football teams for the 2019 season as voted on by a panel at The State. The first games are the weekend of Aug. 23:

1. Dutch Fork (13-0)

Last season’s final ranking: 1

Why they are ranked this year: Three-time Class 5A champions lost key players up front and on defense but return quarterback Ty Olenchuk, WR Jalin Hyatt and running back Ron Hoff among others. National TV home opener against Mallard Creek (North Carolina) starts season on Aug. 23. Dutch Fork has won 25 straight games.

2. River Bluff (9-2)

Last season’s final ranking: 5

Why they are ranked this year: Gators were one of the area’s biggest surprises last season and return several key players including 1,000-yard rusher Braden Walker, who is healthy after a late-season injury.

3. Hammond (13-0)

Last season’s final ranking: 2

Why they are ranked this year: Skyhawks won second straight SCISA 3A title and have a talented list of returnees led by the state’s No. 1 recruit Jordan Burch to go along with Division I prospects Alex Huntley, Jackson Muschamp and Saul Diaz. Big test looms at home Aug. 25 on national TV against Southern Columbia (Pennsylvania). Skyhawks bring 25-game winning streak into the season.

Hammond defeated First Baptist, 40-7, to win SCISA 3A championship on Nov. 17, 2018.

4. Ridge View (8-4)

Last season’s final ranking: 3

Why they are ranked this year: Blazers made it to 4A Upper State semifinals last year and must replace a lot in quarterback Ja’Von Anderson and WR Walyn Napper among others. RV has won 25 games combined over the past three seasons.

Ridge View football coach Perry Parks discusses his team's TD/Turnover hoop for celebrations

5. Blythewood (6-4)

Last season’s final ranking: Not ranked

Why they are ranked this year: Bengals went 6-4 in Jason Seidel’s first season and return a strong corp of players including Division I prospects Joshua and Jordan Burrell. Blythewood will get a big boost in quarterback Josh Strickland, who is transferring from Gilbert, according to Indians coach Chad Leaphart.

6. Westwood (7-5)

Last season’s final ranking: 7

Why they are ranked this year: Matt Quinn takes over for Dustin Curtis at Westwood, and it won’t be a rebuilding project. Quarterback Ahmon Green, WR Christian Horn and safety Cam Atkins are among the pieces Quinn will have to work with this season.

7. Spring Valley (7-4)

Last season’s final ranking: T-8

Why they are ranked this year: The Vikings will have a different look this season with former Blythewood coach Dan Morgan taking over as offensive coordinator. Look for much more passing with the team scrapping its wishbone offense.

8. Chapin (4-6)

Last season’s final ranking: Not ranked

Why they are ranked this year: Disappointing season last year for Eagles, which didn’t make playoffs. But an experienced offensive line should help Eagles bounce back.

9. Brookland-Cayce (7-5)

Last season’s final ranking: T-8

Why they are ranked this year: Bearcats made it to the second round of the playoffs last season and return talented running back Will Way. Biggest question mark is replacing quarterback Reed Charpia.

10. Gilbert (7-4)

Last season’s final ranking: Not ranked

Why they are ranked this year: Last year was the first time in Chad Leaphart’s three seasons the Indians didn’t win at least 10 games. It will be Jy Tolen’s job at quarterback with Josh Strickland headed to Blythewood.

Others receiving votes: Camden, AC Flora, Fairfield Central, White Knoll, Lexington

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