Even though South Carolina high school football spring workouts weeks are away and summer workouts months away, it’s never too early to talk about the prospects for teams in the Rock Hill area.
One of those teams, South Pointe, which won the 2008 Class AAAA Division II state championship over city rival Northwestern, is moving down to Class AAA, along with several familiar opponents. The Stallions, along with former Region 3-AAAA members Fort Mill, York and Nation Ford, will play in Region 4-AAA along with Chester and Fairfield Central.
The move down to Class AAA automatically makes the Stallions a favorite to go deep in the playoffs and perhaps return for a shot at the state title. Coach Bobby Carroll’s Stallions graduated some top players but return many solid players on defense, including defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, widely considered one of the best defensive line prospects for 2011. Clowney is listed as MaxPreps.com’s top 100 prospects for 2011 and has a four-star rating on the Scout.com recruiting service.
Clowney, a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder with superb quickness, speed and power for his sinewy frame, has drawn comparison in stature and ability to Carolina Panthers star Julius Peppers and Tennessee Titans star Jevon Kearse.
In addition to several sacks and batted-down passes, Clowney made several special-teams blocks, especially on the punt team, and also was used on offense in certain formations. Look for him to play more on offense this season.
The Stallions’ chief competition in the newfangled Region 4-AAA should be the Chester Cyclones, who went to two straight Class AAA state championship games, losing to Wilson in 2007 and Myrtle Beach in 2008. Cyclones quarterback Tony McNeal, who has committed to Clemson University, should be lighting up the airwaves for the third consecutive season.
Fairfield Central, a perennial solid Class AAA competitor, could give the Stallions a run for their money, as could York, a hard-luck team that has lost a lot of close games but seems to play harder the tougher the competition gets. The Cougars have a little extra incentive for playing well against the Stallions as Carroll is a York graduate.
Fort Mill and Nation Ford, which has struggled playing in Class AAAA, might struggle this coming year but are well-coached and could pull some surprises. Nation Ford junior quarterback Thomas Condron, who started as a sophomore and got decent playing time as a freshman, is a player to watch.
If the Stallions can guard against overconfidence and develop the new players on offense quickly, the scarlet and silver-clad “Buckin’ Broncos of Neely Road” are primed for a trip down Interstate 77 for a state-title tilt.