Region favorites: local SCHSL teams

 Just last week, we went through the top area contenders for region titles. Now focus goes intoSouth Carolina, where a few teams have made a habit of advancing deep into the postseason in recent years.

 

First, a heads up: Not all of these teams are favorites to win the region. Rather, they represent the area’s best hope in each.

 

Class A Region IV: Williston-Elko

Coach Dwayne Garrick didn’t panic after last year’s 0-2 start and was rewarded with a 10-3 season even with star RB Kendric Salley’s injury. Rokeem Williams is also gone, but other than those two, the Blue Devils are pretty much set. Sophomore Jarius Jenkins rushed for more than 1,000 yards filling in for Salley and gets a strong line to run behind again. Another positive? The Blue Devils have been dominant against region foes. Looking at this year’s region, Williston-Elko outscored the six other teams by a combined 278-18 in 2011. Those numbers would make even 1995 Nebraska blush.

 

Class AA Region V: Silver Bluff

Sure, it’s either the Bulldogs or Barnwell as options, but Silver Bluff is always a legitimate contender. There’s no Tankersley set to dominate this fall, but the running game should be quick and tough to stop again. The main concern probably falls on the defensive line – so long, Blake Robbins and Jimmy Holmes – but a bunch of players asked to contribute early are now becoming veterans, with lineman Gyasi Yeldell one of those.

 

Class AAA Region V: Strom Thurmond

Even after moving up from AA, the Rebels should have another strong season. Raleigh Yeldell must be replaced at QB and Malcolm Watkins has moved on, but Darius Hammond could be one of the area’s leading rushers this fall. Though Strom Thurmond’s region schedule obviously looks drastically different because of the move, the Rebels were in AAA as recently as 2007. Basically, Lee Sawyer’s group can hope for another good playoff run this season.

 

Class AAAA Region V: North Augusta

At this stage, the Yellow Jackets are bigger threats than Aiken and South Aiken, even with some key losses. North Augusta will play fast behind what could be an intimidating offensive line. Both Parker Collins and Jake Whitley return to battle in the trenches, which means the front could help the Jackets overcome any deficiencies. However, keep an eye on South Aiken, as the Thoroughbreds have one of the best QBs in the area in Bo Baldwin.

 

-Wayne

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