As the countdown continues to the kickoff to the high school football season, I take another look at a team to watch for 2015. Today we look at the Indian Land Warriors.
Since going 7-4 in 2011, the Warriors have had some lean years, but they have been trending up. In 2012, they went 1-10. In 2013, they went 2-8. Last season, they went 5-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. The upward trend should continue for coach Michael Mayer and the Warriors.
He has 9 starters coming back on both sides of the ball and that is just the start for the reason for optimism.
This past spring, the Warriors had over 75 kids out for spring football which is the most ever for this AA program. A sign that this team may have something they have never really had and that would be depth.
The one thing the Warriors want to get done offensively is running the ball and they will be able to do that with 4 of the 5 starting linemen back and 5 of the top 6 rushers from 2014 back.
They will be led by fullback Austin Gordon. He led the team in rushing last season with over 700 yards and 10 TD.
Lee Massey is back as well after averaging 5 yards a carry in 2014.
For this team to take the next step, returning QB Dillon Mackey will have to be better throwing the ball to keep defenses honest. This is his 2nd season as the starting signal caller and he will benefit from the return of one of his key targets from last season in Matt Murray.
The defense gave up 23 points per game last season, but has the potential to be much better this season with their top 4 tackers from 2014 back.
LB will be the strength of this unit with the return of leading tackler Chris Blakeney. He racked up 74 last season.
He is joined in the LB corp by Trevor Martin who had 55 tackles (2nd on the team) and 6 sacks (led the team).
Gordon is not only a star on the offense, but on defense as well as he had 46 tackles in 2014.
The secondary will be led by Richie Wilkinson who had 48 tackles and 4 pass defense last season.
They will have to replace all state kicker in Shea Rodgers, but this team will be one to watch in 2015.
The class of Region 4-AA will once again be Cheraw, Central Pageland, and Chesterfield, but Indian Land will also be in the running for the region title.