The DEEP SOUTH FOOTBALL Midlands Area Preseason Top Ten polls reveal at least three teams in the area who could challenge for the deepest run in the playoffs, while several others are going to be contenders in the playoffs.
1. DUTCH FORK SILVER FOXES (5A) - The Foxes have two of the best running backs in the state in the same backfield and are solid at every position. The only position with a question mark is at quarterback and that is because the Foxes have two that could start. Neither give the option of being a lethal run threat but both throw the ball very well.
2. BROOKLAND-CAYCE BEARCATS (3A) - The Bearcats are the best team in the all-star area of the Midlands. They return one of the state's most dangerous athletes at quarterback, junior Reed Charpia, as well as several senior prospects with offers on the table. They came close to winning the lower state semi-finals last season and will be better this season if they can stay healthy.
3. SPRING VALLEY VIKINGS (5A) - The Vikings return a solid starter at quarterback and several good receivers to make their flexbone offense a threat over the top, as well. They are anchored on defense by one of the state's top prospects, linebacker Channing Tindall and this team could very well be the team to challenge Dutch Fork in region play because of the style of offense they run.
4. SUMTER GAMECOCKS (5A) - The Gamecocks return strong talent from a team that was much imporoved under Coach Barnes in his first season last year. They have looked good in preseason and will play a physical brand of football.
5. RIDGE VIEW BLAZERS (4A)- The Blazers lost some talent in key spots but return 13 players who were starters or part time starters from their 10 win season last year. They sputtered a bit in jamboree play but it's difficult to put a lot of stock in those scrimmages.
6. FAIRFIELD-CENTRAL GRIFFINS (3A) - I like this team with 13 starters back, a strong running back combo and speed on the defense. Their team speed will make them tough to beat in region play.
7. WHITE KNOLL TIMBERWOLVES (5A) - I had originally picked this team to be the 2nd best in Region 5-5A but they have struggled a bit with consistancy on offense in some preseason outings. They have a strong set of running backs, are big up front on both sides of the football. They need to improve at the quarterback position to make them a contender in their region.
8. CHAPIN EAGLES (4A)- The Eagles have looked sharp in their off-season and pre-season showings. They are well coached and won't make a lot of mistakes. Consistant play at quarterback and assignment play on defense make them the favorite in their region.
9. BATESBURG-LEESVILLE PANTHERS (2A) - I did not have this team picked at all in the preseason polls until I had a chance to see them...twice now. This team is sound and while they don't have any depth, their 1's make them a dangerous football team. They have a sophomore cornerback in Ke'Shaun Williams who may be the best underclassman prospect in the Midlands area.
10. BLYTHEWOOD BENGALS (5A) - The Bengals have a solid core of returners on defense but will need to find juice on offense to compete in the Region 5. Coach Brian Smith is as good as any at getting the most from the least and he will find a way to win football games they are not supposed to win.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Newberry, Richland Northeast, Ben Lippen, Irmo