CLASS 3A SOUTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
REGULARLY AT PRACTICE AND ON GAME DAYS, South Pointe football players will hear a certain simple, four-letter word from head coach Strait Herron – “Hunt.” With the same ruthless aggression that the
Stallions have used to hunt opposing ballcarriers, they have
gotten after corralling state championships. Since the football
program first took to the gridiron at the varsity level in 2006, it
has earned a trio of titles – the first earned in 2008 in Class 4A,
the final two in 2011 and 2014 against Class 3A competition.
Last year’s championship was particularly special for
coach Herron and South Pointe ( 12-3) as the team faced
its share of adversity following a 2-3 start. Using a stingy
defense along with a revitalized, explosive offensive unit,
the Stallions went on to win 10-straight games en route to
claiming the championship trophy.
Many pieces of that defense are back at the Rock Hill
school, especially in the trenches where Desmond Minton,
Ethan Hudspeth, Paden Lipe and Eli Adams make things
difficult for opposing offenses.
But South Pointe has made a name for itself with the quality of
its defensive backs, and this year is no different. Nick McCloud is
the latest in the long line and he’s received more than his share
of interest and college offers since the end of last season.
What can make the Stallions even more dangerous is their
offense is equally talented. The unit is led by quarterback
Greg Ruff, who threw for more than 2,600 yards and 33
touchdowns a season ago.
Last year’s Class 3A title game was a classic battle of wills
with South Pointe eventually getting the best of another of
the classification’s titans in Hartsville. Do not be surprised if
there is an encore performance this December at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.
A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
The Hartsville Red Foxes ( 14-1) return a lineup that’s
loaded with experience and laden with motivation following
last year’s defeat in the Class 3A state final. As luck would
have it, it was the team’s only loss.
Hartsville has not won less than nine games since 2009,
one of the state’s models of consistency. As consistent as
the team’s ability to win week in and week out is the ability to
which the Red Foxes’ Wing-T offense continues to operate as
a well-oiled machine.
A stable of talented backs return and they hope to run
roughshod over opposing defenses. Additionally, many of the
pieces of a big, physical offensive line are back and those
players will open gaping holes for the likes of Brian Rivers,
Shy McPhail and J.C. Clair.
A team that can certainly ruin a potential South Pointe-Hartsville
reunion in Columbia this December is Myrtle Beach ( 10-3), which
has its own history with the Stallions in the championship game.
Injuries robbed last year’s Seahawks of a true opportunity
to defend their 2013 state title. Chief among those injuries
was that of quarterback Drayton Arnold, who sat the bench
during November’s third-round playoff loss.
The Old Dominion commit is back to lead the Myrtle Beach
offense and he’s joined in the offensive backfield by another
future Monarch in Brandon Sinclair. Myrtle Beach will be
equally tough on defense, courtesy of a solid mix of veterans
and youngsters receiving a quality number of reps.
IS THIS THE YEAR?
Few teams have been as successful in the regular season
On the other side of the ball, Virginia Tech commit Troy Pride
the past several years as Greer ( 11-1), winning four consecu-
tive region titles along with earning nine wins in five of the
past seven years. But playoff success has proven fleeting,
The Yellow Jackets will make another stab at it this fall,
riding the arm of quarterback Mario Cusano – who threw
for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns – and Dorian
Lindsey, one of the state’s top receivers in the Class of 2016.
will make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks as a result
of his length, strength and cover ability. – Joe L. Hughes II
Wilson headlines a highly
motivated and experienced
QB Drayton Arnold, Myrtle Beach
RB Brandon Sinclair, Myrtle Beach
RB Stevie Williams, Berea
WR Samuel Denmark, Hanahan
WR Larry Collins, Lower Richland
WR Christian Bruce, Wilson
WR Shi Smith, Union County
TE Will Register, Chapin
OL Cam Johnson, Marlboro County
OL Raqwon Niles, Richland Northeast
OL Cade Stewart, Daniel
DL Tyrone Kelly, Camden
DL Xavier Thomas, Wilson
DL Darrell Brown, South Florence
LB Datavious Wilson, Hartsville
LB T.J. Brunson, Richland Northeast
LB Tre Smalls, Hanahan
LB Theren Uptigrow, Orangeburg-Wilkinson
DB K.J. Chamberlain, Emerald
DB Troy Pride Jr., Greer
DB Chris Smith, South Pointe
DB Nick McCloud, South Pointe
ATH James Valdez, Orangeburg-Wilkinson
TOP 5 TEAMS
1. South Pointe
3. Myrtle Beach