Indian Land and coach Horatio Blades already had a QB competition between David Loughry and Jay Hildreth, who both started games for the Warriors in 2016. Throw in transfer Chase Eighmy from North Carolina’s Cuthbertson High and “it gets a little tricky” as Blades said. The rookie head coach added that his QBs will not wear red jerseys protecting them from contact this preseason; he needs to find out who can handle pass-rushing heat and claim the starting nod.
The Warriors have more clarity at running back where Tyree Cistare and another transfer from the Tar Heel State, Jacob Carroll, give the team a 1-2 punch in the backfield. Senior college prospect Jake Locklear anchors the offensive line with Christian Ressalam, and Ohio University commit John Gregory and promising sophomore A.J. Jefferson will both play receiver and defensive back. Blades also got 6-foot-5 junior Grayson Barber to return to the program after a year off; he’ll play tight end.
Take a tour of the stadiums on Indian Land’s 2017 football schedule:
Defensive lineman William Makowski is the “heart and soul of the team” according to Blades, and he’s backed up by a decent group of linebackers, led by junior Robbie Csuhta. Gregory, Jefferson and sophomore Dorian Williams give the Warriors play-makers in the secondary, while sophomore Brandon Dickerson offers the Warriors a kicking weapon on special teams.
Coach: Horatio Blades, 1st year (0-0)
Assistant coaches: Terry Young, offensive coordinator; Bakari Burton, running backs; Leon Boulware, offensive line; Donte William, wide receivers; Paul Iovanna, offensive line; Mike Davis, defensive line and special teams; Cortez Starkes, defensive backs; Dalton McGuirt, quarterbacks; Karry Elson, tight ends.
Last season: 2-9, lost in the first round of the 3A playoffs
Last 5 years: 16-38, 5 playoff appearances
Playoff wins last 5 years: 0
Returning starters: 17 (8 offense, 9 defense)
Key number: 4.7 - for every touchdown pass Indian Land threw last season (three), the Warriors threw 4.7 interceptions (14). They need to bring that ratio back to normalcy to improve offensively in 2017.
Key returning players: Sr. OL Jake Locklear, Sr. DB/WR John Gregory, Jr. LB Robbie Cshuta, Soph. ATH A.J. Jefferson, Sr. LB Nico Starcher, Soph. RB Tyree Cistare, Soph. K/P Brandon Dickerson, Jr. RB Jacob Carroll, Jr. OL/DL Erick Neil, Sr. DL/LB Dominic Pestano, Jr. OL Christian Ressalam, OL/DL Nick Yarborough, Sr. DL William Makowski, Jr. DB Alex Murphy, Soph. DB Dorian Williams.
Weakness: Youth is still a factor for Indian Land, which ended the 2016 season starting nine freshmen and sophomores on defense. Blades’ team only has nine seniors on the 2017 team, so he’ll return most of these Warriors next year, too.
Strength: All four defensive secondary starters return for the Warriors, led by Gregory, a college-level athlete. Williams and Jefferson are promising prospects too and they’ll be back next year, along with cornerback Alex Murphy. Jefferson had 19 pass break-ups as a freshman starter in 2016.
Coachspeak: “Our leading tackler last year was a sophomore. We had a really, really young team. I don’t think people understood in our 2-deep how young we really were. Some of our best talent was younger guys. I think they got some of that stuff out of their systems and I’m looking forward to watching them grow this year.”
August: 18 at Lancaster; 25 at Buford
September: 1 Blacksburg; 8 at Broome; 15 Chesterfield; 22 Nation Ford; 29 Chester
October: 6 Bye; 13 at Columbia; 20 Camden; 27 at Fairfield Central
- Indian Land’s opponents won 48 percent of their games in 2016 (51-55) and include seven playoff teams.