How they stack up
Outlook: The young Warriors, armed with another year of experience, are bigger and wiser, two valuable traits in a tough Region 4-2A that’s long been bossed by the schools from Chesterfield County – Chesterfield, Central and Cheraw.
Indian Land coach Michael Mayer’s top-two tacklers on defense last year – Chris Blakeney and Trevor Martin – were sophomores, indicative of the Warriors’ youth and how difficult their 2-9 campaign was. Mayer said the expectation is they’ll repeat as the top tacklers on the Warriors defense. Defensive end Brandon Sellers, a 6-foot-5 part-time receiver, is also back and will be a valuable pair of long arms in the opposing quarterback’s line of sight.
Offensively, the Warriors have some heft. They lost quarterback George Morris to graduation, but they return a number of offensive linemen, including Dakota Brigman and Jacob Williams, as well as hulking junior fullback Austin Gordon, who checks in at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. Senior Charles Turner will also get some touches in the backfield. The size up front should ease the burden on whichever quarterback takes over for Morris, very possibly junior Dillon Mackey.
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The Warriors also have college kicking prospect Shea Rodgers, who put 17 punts inside the 20-yard line last fall and was an all-area first team selection by the Herald.
Departed: WR/DB Manny McCord, QB George Morris, RB/LB Terrell White, WR Dylan Steen, WR/LB Tyler Blue
Key players: RB/S Charles Turner, FB Austin Turner, DE/WR Brandon Sellers, RB Hosea Hameed, P/K Shea Rodgers, LB Chris Blakeney, DB Trevor Martin, OL Dakota Brigman, OL Jacob Williams, DB Derian Gueldner
Mayer says: The Warriors have nine or 10 seniors, according to Mayer, while the junior class is large. Mayer said his program has been building around that group and the hope is the lumps they took last year as sophomores will help them improve this fall.
“Last year, the places we were young was on O-line and D-line and we played a lot of young kids and got our faces beat in. This year, they’re coming back as juniors and they’re excited, they’re waiting for that first scrimmage and first day of full pads practice, because they’re like, ‘you know, we got beat up as juniors and sophomores, we’ve worked hard in the weight room,’ and I’m anxious to see how much they’ve improved on the field. We’ve got a good core group. The big thing we’re looking for now is depth and speed.”
Did you know? The Warriors lost four of their first five games last season by a combined 26 points, an average difference of less than a touchdown per loss. Particularly frustrating was the 12-6 loss to Cheraw, which eventually won the region. Mayer feels that his burgeoning junior class will be able to turn more of those close games into wins this coming fall.