3A/2A Season Preview
By Alex Smith
August is here and that means football. All season I will be covering the area teams in 3A/2A. Here is what I expect in 2019.
I’ll start with the Chapman Panthers. Coach Mark Hodge’s team returns a boatload of talent from a team that was the Region II-3A champions last season. Quarterback Mikele Colasurdo (a recent Georgia State commit) will again be surrounded by explosive players with running back Dante Smith and wide receiver Ben Rollins returning for an offense that regularly topped 40 points a year ago. Chapman will once again be the favorite in the region and some people are even talking about another undefeated regular season. While I think the Panthers offense will put up plenty of points this year, I think it’s the defense that will surprise some people. I believe this experienced defensive unit will force a lot of turnovers, and give the offense great field position that will lead to several blowout wins for the Panthers in 2019. An undefeated run isn’t out of the question, but it won’t be easy with a tough non-region schedule that has them hosting Union County before back to back road games at Seneca and 5A Boiling Springs. Regardless of the regular season, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Coach Hodge and his team were still practicing on Thanksgiving week.
Two other teams in Region II-3A that will be looking to make their way back to the playoffs are the Broome Centurions and the Chesnee Eagles. Broome will be replacing Brenden Taylor at quarterback, but fans shouldn’t expect a drop off at the position as junior K.J. Morgan has looked great in preseason scrimmages. I also expect the Centurions to have a very productive ground game with a pair of capable running backs in junior Bryant Davis and senior C.J. Littlejohn getting the bulk of the carries. Overall Broome returns 13 starters for Coach Lynn Fleming, and if the Centurions can remain healthy, I see them opening the postseason with a home game at Royal Stadium.
As for the Chesnee Eagles, they are a bit of a mystery team this year. It’ll be the first season for new Head Coach Clay Lewis and it’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles new triple-option offense will be effective. Chesnee will rotate three quarterbacks early in the season and if they find a guy they like by the time region play comes around, Chesnee will challenge for a playoff spot.
Over in Region III-3A, the Union County Yellow Jackets appear to be the team to beat. Last season in Coach Brian Thompson’s first year at the school, Union improved by 8 wins from the previous year, won the region and finished 10-4, eventually falling in the Upper State Championship game. With dynamic dual-threat quarterback Kesean Glover returning to lead the offense I see another deep playoff run for the Jackets in 2019.
Coach Bradley Adams will look to build off a strong first year at Woodruff as well. The Wolverines finished with 8 wins before falling in the opening round of the playoffs. Quarterback Keegan Halloran is gone, along with several other key contributors. Senior B.J. Bailey will take over under center on offense, and while he looks the part (6’4”, 210) we will have to wait and see if he can be as consistently productive as his predecessor. And while I expect Woodruff to ground and pound as a Bradley Adams coached team always does, I foresee senior wide receiver Omarion McKelvin being big part of the game plan as well. This year’s team will be in the postseason again, and will give the Yellow Jackets a fight for the region title as well.
Down in 2A we have Coach Jason Farmer and the Landrum Cardinals. Last year we saw the Cardinals trend in the right direction and finish with an impressive 8-3 record. While the defense led the way last season allowing a mere 11.5 points per game, I think the offense will be much improved in 2019. Senior running back Cam Wilson has big play ability and if quarterback Cooper Gentry takes care of the football and limits the turnovers, this team will win some close games and could be hosting a playoff game in back to back seasons.
We are just days away from the openers in Week 0, and I’m looking forward to another great year of football in the upstate.