McCORMICK, S.C. -- Expectations were sky high in 1998 for McCormick after the Chiefs fell just one win shy of a Class A state title in 1997.
But those expectations were doused when McCormick fell in the second round of the playoffs to Blackville-Hilda. The Chiefs finished second in Region 1-A last season with an 8-4 mark, and return only six starters.
Senior quarterback Rondel Calhoun (6-foot-1, 160 pounds), a starter since his freshman season, was at the helm as a sophomore on that 1997 state finals team. But Calhoun missed three games with a knee injury a year ago. He finished the year with 282 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, and 831 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air.
Calhoun and running back Maurice Brown (6-1, 200) will be key players on both sides of the ball.
"Last year was a down one for Rondel, but he's a threat every time he touches the ball," McCormick coach Michael Allen said. "He's just a great athlete, and he's going to have to be our offense for a while. And we're looking for big things from Maurice this season. He's always had glimpses of great talent, but he could never show it on Friday nights. Hopefully, this will be his year."
The Chiefs face a tough non-region schedule with defending Class AA state champion Emerald and Georgia Class A rival Lincoln County on the table.
Allen will play a host of newcomers since the departure of seven seniors who signed to play college football.
Brian Coley was a 1,000-yard rusher and Torrey Murray and Torvorius Middleton each had 500-yard seasons last year. All three signed to play with Stillman College, an NCAA Division III school in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Freshman Jonta Simbert (5-10, 215) will be the newest newcomer as he will start at middle linebacker.