When it comes to winning conference championships, no on has a better resume than the South Point Red Raiders. In the last 16 years, they have won 13. From 2007-2013, they outright won or shared a piece of the Big South title. That streak was broken last season by Forestview as the Jaguars won their 1st ever outright conference title. 2015 could see another battle between South Point and Forestview, but you can also throw in a surprise team into the mix.
The defending champs will have to replace a ton of talent on offense as only 2 starters are back. The one starter they do return was last year's conference offensive player of the year in RB Moe Neal. Neal rushed for 2 thousand yards and 29 TD. He also had 500 yards receiving and another 9 TD.
That is a great piece to have for head coach Chris Medlin, but with only 19 lettermen returning, there will be a few guys seeing 1st time playing time at the varsity level.
Colton Guthrie will take over as QB for the Jags as he was a WR last season and also served as back up QB.
Tons of questions on offense, but on defense, that is not the case for the Jags. They have 8 starters back on that side of the ball and have big time talent at each level.
On the D-Line, Tate Payne and Daryl McNeill will anchor that unit. Payne had 102 tackles last season to go along with 3 sacks. McNeill had 79 tackles and 5 sacks in 2014.
The LB corp will be led by last year's conference defensive player of the year Logan Mesior. He led Forestview in tackles last season with 145. He also had 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
The secondary will have Trell McCaskill patrolling deep. He led the team with 5 interceptions and also 9 pass break ups and 1 fumble recovery.
Early success for this team will depend on the defense as the offense figures itself out.
With 5 starters back on both sides of the ball, there are a lot of questions to answer for head coach Mickey Lineberger. The biggest loss for South Point will be RB/DB Tanner Muse who is now at Clemson and all conference QB Jaquan Brooks. But what coach Lineberger has coming back is very impressive.
The leading rusher off of last year's team is back in fullback Ryland Etherton. He ran for 16 hundred yards.
The O-Line should be solid as well anchored by A.J. Alverson, Jacob Justice, and Matt Mellette.
So, who will be the starting QB? Diontre King will have the first crack at filling that void as he tries to orchestrate that Red Bone option offense.
On defense, the team's defense MVP is back in LB Tyler Hall. He had an outstanding 2014 with 143 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 13 pass break ups, and 1 INT.
He will be joined by Nick Muse at LB as he had 34 tackles in 2014.
In the secondary, J.T. Starr is back at free safety. Last year, he had 70 tackles, 2 INT, 11 pass break ups, and 1 fumble recovery.
South Point was close to playing for a 3A state title last season as they lost to eventual champ Crest 13-7 in the Western Final and that has this team hungry to get back work to complete some unfinished business.
The dark horse in the race for the Big South title is the Ashbrook Green Wave. Ashbrook's last conference title came back in 2005, but this team is set to have a big season in 2015.
Head coach Greg Hill has 8 starters back on offense and 6 on defense.
The straw that stirs the drink on offense is do everything player Jeff Glenn. He had 11 hundred all purpose yards last season as a RB, WR, kick returner, and punt returner. He also tallied 15 total TD.
A big weapon on the outside is back in WR Z'Andre Given. He had 500 yards and 6 TD in 2014.
The one thing Ashbrook likes to do is spread the ball around. Last year, 6 guys had at least 100 yards receiving for the season so look for others like Kristien Bell, Thomas Smith, and Malik Hyatt to be factors in the offense this season.
The O-Line will be solid with guys like Breon Foust, Brandon Conner, and Tyson Fortenberry anchoring this squad.
The big question on offense will be at QB as Jabreze Robbs will take over as the starter. He got a little playing time last season in 5 games so it won't be completely new to him. That's a positive, but he is the man now and as he goes, so goes the Green Wave offense.
On defense, Ashbrook has experience at every level.
On the line, the Green Wave will be deep with the likes of Ontario Sadler, DeMarkus Stackston, and Justin Alexander will anchor that unit.
At LB, Cameron Lowery will be a big time leader.
In the secondary, watch out for Jaquaious Miller and newcomers Ishaun Wright and Jacquez Armstrong.
This is going to be a 3 team race all the way to the finish and could end up with 2 teams sharing the title. It will be a race to pay close attention to all season long.
I will give you my prediction on the Football Friday Night preview show on August 14th. Join us at 11:35 that night as we get you ready for the 33rd season of FFN and take your calls on who you think will be the good teams in 2015.