The consensus from some coaches I've polled is......
The new name will be the Sandhills Athletic Conference (SAC), wouldn't have minded it being called the Mid-Southeastern again, but that's neither her nor there.
The level of competition should pick up in the conference and not be so top heavy. With that being said, here is my SAC 4A prediction for 2017.
1) Scotland County
2) Richmond Senior
6) Jack Britt
7) Hoke County
8) Purnell Swett
Richmond, 71st, and Pinecrest are bunched together, and there's really no separation. These games could come down to the last possession or one play that changes the outcome of said game. Scotland is the clear favorite, if they don't win it this year, there will be some furniture moving in Laurinburg.
Richmond will have talent coming back, but are a couple of years away from contending for a state title. Non conference will be brutal for the Raiders. From a source inside the program on staff, they will be going with a freshman at QB, but his level of play is more advanced. He will have his struggles, but he will be one of the best to come through the program. Combine that with the talent that Richmond has coming, and you have a good recipe for success, but not this year.
Sound smart around the water cooler: Richmond's last 3 head coaches (Hoggard, Castellano, and Till) have had to travel to Pate in their first year as the leader of Richmond.
71st experienced a couple of down years recently, but are going to contend for second, and may give Scotland a run for their money. They have the best chance to beat the champs.
Pinecrest toughened up their nonconference, which will benefit them in conference play, but they have to figure out a way to get over the Richmond/Scotland hump to realize what Metzger has been so close to accomplishing, a conference championship. Does anyone know the last time they won a conference title in football?
Lumberton is my dark horse in the conference to break into the top 3. They have a QB that's been in the system and starting since his 9th grade year, and stability with whose voice they are listening to. The issue for Lumberton, because they will score points, is whether they can stop anyone on defense. If they can, watch out.
I really believe that Britt having as much as an abysmal season as they did last year is a blip on a generally solid-great program. I don't see Britt having that type of season again, and they will be respectable. Watch out Scots, the game at The Boneyard could wind up being a trap game.
Hoke County will improve, but with the conference improving from top to bottom, I see maybe one win for them in conference.
Purnell Swett made some strides near the end of the season on offense, but will struggle in this conference, they and Hoke are either going to finish 7th or 8th.