Making region predictions is akin to media sadomasochism. That said, here’s my picks for order-of-finishes in the four local regions that contain Herald coverage area schools. Disagree? Let me know on Twitter @BretJust1T or @RHHerald_Preps . Don’t have Twitter? Call me.
1. York Picking the top-three in Region 3-4A is hair-splitting at best. York returns a senior quarterback, rare in the region, as well as eight or nine defensive starters. Cougars are the pick.
2. Northwestern The defending state champs should not fall far, despite graduating nearly double-digit Division I college football players. The Trojans’ success will obviously depend on the quarterback position, because the defense should drop off.
3. Gaffney The Indians return to Region 3 with one of their weaker-looking teams on paper in several seasons. Stars will emerge for the Indians, but will they have enough to grab the league title this fall?
4. Fort Mill The Yellow Jackets return the most starters in the Herald’s coverage area, including skill position players, and should be much better this fall.
5. Rock Hill The Bearcats will again be a bit of a mystery, as they lack known star-power. That’s not a bad thing, though, and first year coach Bubba Pittman can play that up to motivate his team. Playoff contenders, but barely.
6. Nation Ford In contrast to their cross-town rivals, Nation Ford returns the fewest starters in the Herald’s coverage area. The Falcons program’s upward ascent looks set to stall this season, before continuing again in 2015.
7. Clover The Blue Eagles will be better this year. But they had a long row to hoe to climb back into the Region 3-4A playoff positions. I expect Clover to double or triple last year’s one win in the region, but they still will be on the outside looking in come November.
1. South Pointe The Stallions have a chance to open the season as the top-ranked 3A team in South Carolina. Separating hype from reality will be crucial for Strait Herron’s team.
2. Broome Former Clover coach Jet Turner has his system in place, and the Centurions will run the ball down opponent’s throat. Broome was 9-3 last season and has several key players back, including linebacker Bauveir Jackson.
3. Chester The Cyclones’ ascent this season will hinge on chemistry, which undid their 2013 campaign. The talent is there for a playoff berth, especially with college prospect Tommy Sanders under center.
4. Lancaster The Bruins’ first 3A season in school history comes in a tough region. The Bruins return some offensive starters, but will be starting largely from scratch under new coach Bobby Collins.
5. Union Yellow Jackets went 2-8 last season after reaching the state championship game the season prior. Not sure Steve Taneyhill’s crew will improve much this year.
6. Clinton The smallest school in Class 3A will have a tough time competing with this region. That said, the Red Devils won four of their five region contests last season after a slow start and have a good chunk of last year’s team back.
1. Cheraw Chesterfield County schools (Cheraw, Pageland and Chesterfield) won all nine games against Lancaster County schools (Indian Land Land, Andrew Jackson and Buford) last fall and that shouldn’t change this year. The Braves also return four offensive line starters.
2. Central Pageland Opponents will get a heavy dose of quarterback Drae Linton and running back Quan Welch as the Eagles look to reclaim the region title from their rivals at Cheraw.
3. North Central North Central returns All-Region running back William Jenkins, and will pair him with rising sophomore Cedric Cunningham. Expect the Knights to ride them hard during the first season in a new 2A region.
4. Chesterfield New coach Chris Arnoult takes over for Ike Allred, and the Rams have only six seniors and return just four starters. Could be a reloading year for usually strong program.
5. Indian Land The Warriors have question marks at quarterback, but they are better all over the field, a bit of an inverse from last season. A solid offensive line should help Indian Land climb back toward a winning record, though probably not over .500.
6. Andrew Jackson Quarterback Kolby Whitley returns, but coach David Moore needs to unearth some offensive weapons for the Volunteers to be able to keep pace with the offenses in the top half of the league.
7. Buford the Yellow Jackets vacated all of their three 2013 wins during the offseason because of an eligibility issue, so new coach Tripp Watts takes over with nowhere to go but up.
1. Lamar The Silver Foxes graduated just seven seniors from a 2013 team that lost to Christ Church in the Upper State championship and finished 10-3. Rookie head coach Corey Fountain takes over for J.R. Boyd, who retired, but that shouldn’t hinder the Silver Foxes’ region title hopes.
2. Great Falls Low numbers as usual for the Red Devils, but they have quality players, if not quantity. If Kenneth Schofield’s bunch can stay healthy, they can win the region’s No. 2 playoff seed. If not, they could struggle.
3. Lewisville The Lions have numbers, unlike their rivals down the road, but are incredibly young. This might be a foundation-building year for Will Mitchell’s program, one that sets it up for success the next two seasons.
4. C.A. Johnson The Hornets sink back to reality after last season’s relative success. Replacing difference-makers on offense, Michael Knox and Peter Goodman, will be tough to do for a Class A school.
5. McBee The Panthers were winless in the region in 2013, and it will be an uphill slog to try and better that this fall.