Monday, I talked about Crest being a dominant team this season in 3A, but another Cleveland County school is once again going to be a hand full in 2A.
What a run the Shelby Golden Lions are on! The last 2 seasons, they have won 26 games and 2 straight state championships. They very well could make it 3 straight this season even with the loss of stars like quarterback R.J. George, linebacker Garrison Addison, and cornerback Demerio Houston.
Seven starters are back on offense and 4 on defense. While defense will be the big question early for coach Lance Ware's Golden Lions, he has 45 lettermen back to try and fill those holes.
Let's start with the offense where 4 of the 5 starting offensive linemen are return. That is a big relief for new quarterback Darquez Lee. Another big relief will be the return of wide receiver Jayden Borders. Last season, he had 11 hundred yards and 10 TD on 85 receptions.
Kavacia Shell is also back at wide receiver after racking up 500 yards last season. He should see his production climb in 2015.
Coach will have to find a new work horse at the running back position after losing his top 2 rushers in Chad Reid and Buck Ussery. Insert sophomore Xavier Brooks who rushed for 400 yards and 7 TD as a freshman. In other words, they will be just fine on offense thank you very much.
Defense will be the key to a Shelby 3-peat.
They do have last year's leading tackler back in linebacker Dax Hollifield and he is one you are going to hear about for a while. WHY? Well, last year he was a FRESHMAN and led a state championship team in tackles. In 2014, he racked up 112 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks. He has already been offered by Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, and Duke.
He will joined in the linebacker corp by Damien Key. He was 2nd on the team in tackles behind Dax with 76. He also had 2 sacks.
The secondary will have both cornerback Demonte Poole and free safety Aaron Jolly back. Last season Poole had 6 INT and Jolly had 1 INT.
Defensive line will be the biggest question on this team as all 4 starters are gone. Kameron Hawk played in 13 of Shelby's 16 games last season and had 24 tackles and 3 tackles for loss. He will have to be a key player this season if this unit is to keep up the great tradition of great D-Lines.
That remade Shelby defense will get a big test right out the gate as they go to Freedom in week 1 and try to stop Patriots RB and Alabama commit BJ Emmons. They follow that up with a game versus 3A power A.C. Reynolds, and finish the non conference schedule trying to stop the Redbone offense of South Point. That game is in Belmont.
We will really know where this team is by the time conference play starts which will finish off with a battle with county rival Crest in the regular season finale. That very well could be for the South Mountain Athletic Conference (SMAC) title.
Can they 3-peat as state champs? Once again, you got to watch the FFN Preview Show on August 14th to get my opinion. Join us that night at 11:35 as we will take your calls on the upcoming 2015 season and give you the preseason FFN Top 10.
One thing I can say, it should be another great year of high school football in Cleveland County.