LANGLEY — Midland Valley fought Strom Thurmond to the end of last season’s region-clinching shootout, putting the Mustangs on the map.
For those who have watched the Mustangs’ offensive trio grow up in the program, it came as no surprise.
Midland Valley finished 6-5 in 2013, going 3-2 in Region 5-AAA. It was a two-win improvement that put the Mustangs back in the state playoffs, where they lost in the first round to Hartsville.
More than the record and playoff appearance, Midland Valley’s explosive offensive core grew a year older and gained big-game experience. That core will return this season looking to get over the hump and dive deeper into the playoffs.
“We have a lot of pieces,” junior quarterback Daniel Carr said. “We’re just putting them all together to have a good year this year. We just have to be ready to play when Friday night comes.”
Carr and his cousin, senior running back Dre Carr, will team lead an offense that averaged 28 points per game a year ago. Coach Rick Knight said Daniel Carr’s arm has gained strength, and he has taken it upon himself to be a vocal leader.
Knight said a key is keeping Dre Carr healthy. Midland Valley was without its top rusher at the end of the past two seasons because of injuries. However, the Mustangs have more depth at the position this year with Dre’s brother, junior Drekwon Carr.
“Dre is really the key to our offense as far as being around, providing power,” Knight said. “We’re hoping Dre’s brother provides depth this year. He has tremendous speed.”
Daniel Carr will again look to one of the most talented receivers in the area, senior Kameron Brown. The two grew up together and developed a connection quickly on the high school field. It showed in the Strom Thurmond game as Brown caught seven passes for 116 yards, several in traffic after Carr’s scrambles.
Greater success also hinges on Midland Valley’s defense. The Mustangs were prone to give up a big play in key situations last season, which hindered their offensive impact.
“We have to lock in and be more focused and aware of situational defense,” Knight said. “We have a lot of seniors in the secondary, and that’s where the focus has to come from.”
Midland Valley again has a tough schedule in a competitive region, but with two-thirds of the offensive core giving it one more chance, and the defense being a year older, expectations are the highest in years.
“Our defense is starting to come together, and the offense should continue to produce,” Daniel Carr said. “We’re looking to get better day by day.”