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Everything to know from 2018 HS football spring practice in The Herald's coverage area

Rock Hill High's Nick Ervin intercepts a pass during the Rock Hill High 2018 spring football scrimmage.
Rock Hill High's Nick Ervin intercepts a pass during the Rock Hill High 2018 spring football scrimmage. tkimball@heraldonline.com

Spring football practice has wrapped in South Carolina.

The Herald took a look at all 12 of the schools in its coverage area, where they stand after the spring and ahead of the summer, and more importantly, fall.

Chester

Who's back? Hawg of the Year Wyatt Tunall leads a large group of returning players, including running back Pha'Leak Brown. Sophomore Stan Mills will likely slot in at quarterback, which will give the team a bit more of a running focus. Tunall, Montez Hall, Daniel Elkins and several others return on the offensive line. Six-foot-1, 220-pound reshman linebacker Octaveon Minter returns and is starting to get serious college recruiting interest. Dorrien Bagley is back as a hybrid linebacker/defensive back that made a lot of big plays for the Cyclones last fall. And Chester's young defensive line, led by sophomores Teddy Murphy and Quay Evans, is another year bigger and more experienced.

Who's gone? Do-everything QB and kicker John Erby heads to Rhode Island to play college football and standout defensive back/receiver Quay Hardin heads to Kansas for two years of junior college ball. Pass-catcher T.J. Hollis is also graduating but most of the Cyclones' key contributors are back.

Number to know: 131 - rising junior Stan Mills averaged 131 yards rushing in the three games that Pha'Leak Brown missed last fall. Mills churned out 7.2 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns in the three games. The Cyclones should have both Mills and Brown on the field most offensive possessions in 2018.

Coach said: Floyd is confident his talented senior class will be highly recruited. “Wyatt (Tunall) is a 4.0 student, already qualified, graduating in December, Pha’Leak (Brown) is a 3.5 student, already qualified, graduating in December, every one of my seniors that can play college ball for next year already qualified.”

2018 schedule

August: 17 vs. Aiken (at Newberry College); 24 at Fort Mill; 31 Rock Hill

September: 7 at Columbia (Ga.); 14 Lancaster; 21 Carolina Pride; 28 Indian Land

October: 5 at Keenan; 12 Camden; 19 at Fairfield Central; 26 Bye

Former Washington Redskins Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Joe Jacoby spoke to The Herald’s annual Hawgs of the Week celebration for high school football offensive linemen on Jan. 11, 2018.

Clover

Who's back? Receiver Heze Massey had a huge 2017 season and will ease Clover's transition to a new QB. Coach Brian Lane has sophomore Cory Adams, junior Dallas Bradshaw, Nation Ford transfer Dominic Campo, and Markus Nastase battling it out for the starting spot. Clover also returns Jaylin Lane, Blackmon Huckabee and Zion Robbins in a promising receiver corps. Robbins missed almost all of 2017 and should pair well with Massey. Clover also has several underclassmen that started last season on defense, including freshman safety Josh Marr and linebackers Hayden Johnson and Shon Brown.

Who's gone? QB Garrett Miller did a solid job running the Blue Eagles' spread offense last season, and will play college ball at North Greenville. Running back Semaj Lakin will join Miller at North Greenville, along with standout offensive lineman Garrett Lutz, who unfortunately missed most of the 2017 season. And standout kicker Nick Sciba graduated early and enrolled at Wake Forest, where he'll compete for the starting kicking job this spring.

Number to know: 34.8 - Clover averaged 34.8 points in its four games against teams from Gastonia, N.C. that opened the 2017 season. That figure even includes a scoreless effort against South Point (N.C.). The Blue Eagles' offensive struggles in Year One of spread football under coach Brian Lane increased against South Carolina schools. Clover averaged 19.2 points per game in its six games against S.C. teams.

Coach said: “We’re definitely going to have to work to develop a quarterback," said Lane. "That’s one of the main things we had to do because we lost a 2,500-yard passer last year, so we definitely need to shore up that spot.”

2018 schedule

August: 17 at York; 24 at Forestview (N.C.); 31 at Hunter Huss (N.C.)

September: 7 South Point (N.C.); 14 Ashbrook (N.C.); 21 Irmo; 28 at Nation Ford

October: 5 Northwestern; 12; Rock Hill; 19 Bye; 26 at Fort Mill

Fort Mill High School has a new head football coach for 2018. Skipper Rob McNeely got a first look at his team last week as spring practices opened.

Fort Mill

Who's back? One of the best kickers in the area, Kyle Romenick. Fort Mill also has two QBs returning, J.T. Marr and Dylan Helms, and a couple of receivers -- Ben Kellam, Cam Saunders and Josh Cloud -- who the Yellow Jackets want to stretch the field. Sebastian Lach had some flashes in 2017 and his versatility will be useful on offense. Center Bartley Leonard returns up front, while Nick Brown adds value to the offensive and defensive line. Caleb Smith returns at linebacker and Deangelo Coit and Alan Stevens will play in the secondary.

Who's gone? Head coach Ed Susi. Fort Mill athletic director Dwayne Hartsoe moved quickly to hire Lake Norman (N.C.) coach Rob McNeely. All-Star running back/defensive back Ryan Heriot is a big loss to graduation, as is two-way standout Grant Stevens and top tackler Jake Ajemian (linebacker). McNeely will have to replace Ronin Costanzo, Zach Szwed and two-way lineman Trey Reed up front.

Number to know: 2 - McNeely brought two assistant coaches with him from Lake Norman, including offensive coordinator Tony Paciotti. McNeely retained some of the previous coaching staff but still has a few holes to fill.

Coach said: "We played a lot of loud music," said McNeely. "I think the coaches liked the pace of practice. It seems like we got done stretching and practice was over. The kids are out there having fun and the coaches are having fun with it, it tends to go by too fast, I think. But the energy and the excitement and the enthusiasm was up. Every day."

2018 schedule

August: 17 at River Bluff; 24 Chester; 31 at Lancaster

September: 7 Camden; 14 at Lugoff-Elgin; 21 York; 28 at Rock Hill

October: 5 at Nation Ford; 12 Bye; 19 Northwestern; 26 Clover

The Herald put a wireless microphone on fiery Fort Mill assistant football coach Dammeon Chisholm during the Yellow Jackets' Oct. 2, 2017 practice in preparation of their big game against Clover.

Great Falls

Who's back? Great Falls returns key blockers up front -- including seniors Dustin Smith, Justin Montgomery and sophomore Zaveon Beaty -- as well as 6-foot-5 sophommore receiver Kelton Talford and sophomore QB Kel Brown. Da'Shawn Johnson and Elijah Simpson give the Red Devils a solid sophomore pair on the defensive line and junior linebacker Nathaniel Hall backs them up. Senior wide receiver Travis Payne returns, alongside Talford.

Who's gone? Two-way linemen Jamie Craig, Cody Spires and Artez Blackmon are gone, along with LB/RB Gage Spinks, WR/LB Zac Roberts and WR/DB Tommy Belk. Great Falls graduated just five seniors.

Number to know: 4 - That’s how many seniors the Red Devils lost off of the 2017 team.

Coach said: For Steen, coaching is about "developing relationships and enjoying our time together. Just being there for them, the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, celebrating with them, crying with them, you know? Kids these days, it’s a completely different experience than it was when I went to school, everything is in fast forward mode and right up close and personal, so, where you might have could’ve gotten away with doing something when I was in school and nobody knew about it, there’s no way you can do anything today" without people knowing about it.

2018 schedule

August: 16 at C.A. Johnson; 24 Whitmire; 31 at Lewisville

September: 7 at Andrew Jackson; 14 at Dixie; 21 Ware Shoals; 28 Camden Military

October: 5 Bye; 12 McBee; 19 at Lamar; 26 Timmonsville

Indian Land

Who's back? Indian Land's biggest question is at quarterback. The Warriors could either go with athletic runner Brandon Britton or developing prospect Grayson Barber, a 6-foot-6 junior. But most everything else is set for coach Horatio Blades. Junior safety Dorian Williams has had a big spring, earning offers from Troy, Coastal Carolina and Campbell, and will lead a talented secondary. A.J. Jefferson is a two-way receiver/defensive back that makes big plays, and Alex Murphy will be a team leader alongside linebacker and leading tackler Robby Csuhta. Junior Taj Knight sat out last year after moving to Indian Land from Syracuse, N.Y., but Blades thinks he'll be a big contributor on the defensive line. Kicker Brandon Dickerson is another weapon that's back for the Warriors.

Who's gone? Standout athlete John Gregory is off to college football at Ohio, and offensive line anchor Jake Locklear will also play in college, at Presbyterian. Linebacker Nico Starcher and QB David Loughry graduated, but Indian Land only loses eight seniors total.

Number to know: 41 - Csuhta's dad played linebacker in college at Pitt and the younger Cshuta plays with similar grit and toughness. College coaches are waiting to see how well he runs in camps this summer before offering scholarships, but there is no questioning his strength. Csuhta posted 41 repetitions of 185 pounds at the Shrine Bowl combine, 13 more than any of the other 173 players working out.

Coach said: Indian Land lost three games last season by a touchdown or less. "The mindset is right," said Blades. "I think we're where we want to be right now. The seniors are stepping up. That's what happens when some of these young kids become old kids. It was kind of hard to get that senior leadership because there was only eight of them, versus 40 underclassmen But the senior bunch now, everything is positive and that's one thing I like about the kids."

2018 schedule

August: 17 Lancaster; 24 Buford; 31 at York

September: 7 at Rock Hill; 14 at Nation Ford; 21 South Pointe; 28 at Chester

October: 5 Bye; 12 Keenan; 19 at Camden; 26 Fairfield Central

South Pointe defensive line coach Gerald Peake is known for his humor and biting wit. He wore a wireless mic during Tuesday’s practice to give an idea of what a normal day around him is like.

Lancaster

Who's back? Immanuel Bush moves from defensive line to linebacker, which should enable him to cover more of the field, a very good thing for the Bruins' defense. The Bruins return several talented offensive linemen, including juniors Jalen Tatah and Fred Reid. QB Kemarkio Cloud returns as part of a strong three-headed running attack along with Nygel Moore and A'sonta Foster. Christian Woodard and Zack Truesdale give Cloud receiving targets, while Zion Duncan and Nehemia Bailey patrol the Bruins' defensive secondary. Will Burton and Meliko Roseboroough start alongside Bush at linebacker, but the Bruins return no starting defensive linemen.

Who's gone? Defensive thoroughbred Markees Watts missed all of the 2017 season, but he'll begin his college football career at Charlotte this summer. Receiver Desmond Stowers graduated, as did offensive line starters/contributors Keavius Barnes, Jaren Watts and Keyonte Stevens. Ben Rivers and Blake Payne were solid linebacker and defensive line players.

Number to know: 5.4:1 - Lancaster ran the ball 405 times last season, but threw it just 75, a 5.4 to 1 ratio. Collins knows his crew needs to be more aerially-capable and has signed the Bruins up for nine 7-on-7 tournaments this summer, the most they've done under him.

Coach said: "This is the first time since I've been here that we have kids, that all our starting DB's can play wideout and all our starting wideouts can play DB," said Collins. "Going against York, South Pointe, you've got to have all your best kids on the field to have a chance to beat those guys. We trained them that way here in the offseason."

2018 schedule

August: 17 at Indian Land; 24 Fairfield Central; 30 Fort Mill

September: 7 at Nation Ford; 14 at Chester; 21 Bye; 28 Richland Northeast

October: 5 South Pointe; 12 at York; 19 Westwood; 26 at Ridge View

Lewisville

Who's back? Fourteen seniors depart, but the Lions have talent returning. Sophomore Demetric Hardin and eight grader (rising ninth grader) Christian Yoder will compete for the starting quarterback job, while junior Martez Moore will shift over to running back after starting in the secondary. Jadon Scott and Ja'Shawn Jason should lead the way at receiver. Junior Wesley Williamson will become a four-year starter on the Lions' offensive line this fall, while Cameron Robertson is a player that coach Will Mitchell thinks can impact the defensive line. Freshman linebacker Nate Kelly is already getting college recruiting interest.

Who's gone? Lewisville graduates a talented senior class, led by Clemson defensive tackle Josh Belk, offensive machine Quentin Sanders, standout two-way player Mikial Fourney and driven and devoted team leader Jaylen McFadden. Also gone? Lewisville's days in the 1A classification. The Lions join Region 4-2A, which includes Chesterfield, Central, Buford and Andrew Jackson, among others.

Number to know: 1,000-plus - Lewisville's 2017 quarterback, Rhett Cox, threw over 1,000 passes last summer to get ready for the season. He hadn't started at QB before last year but the work he put in during the offseason helped him throw for over 2,500 yards as a senior. The Lions will need that kind of work from Hardin and/or Yoder.

Coach said: "For me, the biggest issue, the biggest wait-and-see, is experience," said Mitchell. "We've got guys that are gonna be pretty good once they play. They've just got to play. We've got plenty of play-makers, guys that can do something with the ball in their hands. We've just got to build up their confidence."

2018 schedule

August: 17 at Eau Claire; 24 C.A. Johnson; 31 Great Falls

September: 7 Carolina Pride; 14 Bye; 21 at Central; 28 at Buford

October: 5 Lee Central; 12 at Andrew Jackson; 19 North Central; 26 Chesterfield

Mikial Fourney, Chloe Thomas, Quentin Sanders and Jaylen McFadden were recognized in front of Lewisville High School’s student body on Feb. 14, 2018. All four will continue their academic careers in college while playing sports.

Nation Ford

Who's back? The Falcons have offensive weapons back, chiefly running back Nathan Mahaffey, receivers Nathan Lovette and Harrison Cohen and receiver Dewuan McCullum, probably Nation Ford's best game-breaker. Devin Hodges, Garrett Buckley, Aronde Smith and rising sophomore Marshall Stafford give the Falcons a solid OL group. Michael Peterson led the area in tackles in 2017 and leads the Nation Ford defense into 2018. He's partnered by Sam Rygol. Juniors John Sanders and Ashten Schaufert anchor the defensive line, while sophomore safety Petey Tuipulotu gets his chance to become the latest bearing that last name to star for Nation Ford.

Who's gone? Seven, possibly eight college football players. Standout athlete Ben Tuipulotu played a big part in the Falcons' rebound from a slow start in 2017 and he's graduated and headed to BYU (and a two-year Mormon mission). Nation Ford will also be hard pressed to find a like-for-like replacement for punter Skyler DeLong, an All-American that stands a strong chance of starting as a freshman at Alabama. Mammoth lineman Travell Crosby graduates, as does ball-hawk safety Tim Smith, who will play at VMI.

Number to know: 5 - McCullum only played in 5 games last fall because of injury. He recently was offered his first scholarship by Chattanooga and will be a big part of the Falcons' offense in 2018.

Coach said: Six-foot-5, 230-pound junior Carson Carruthers looks like the Falcons' starting QB headed into the summer. Coach Michael Allen is eager to avoid the QB turmoil of 2017 when the Falcons started five different signal-callers during the season. "This is happened over the last week or two where I've made a decision that we are going to embrace him and that's what will make us a better football team. Want him to take ownership of that and move on from there. It just wasn't a good flow for us there last year."

2018 schedule

August: 17 at Spartanburg; 24 Conway; 31 at South Pointe

September: 7 Lancaster; 14 Indian Land; 21 Bye; 28 Clover

October: 5 Fort Mill; 12 at Northwestern; 19 at Rock Hill; 26 at Chapin

A co-winner of the region title in 2017, the Nation Ford High School Falcons football team was back it last week for spring practice. Nation Ford has several quarterbacks on the roster and sorting out No. 1 will be a late summer task.

Northwestern

Who's back? Receiver and Gamecocks commit Jamario Holley should star for the Trojans, especially with plenty of wide receiver help -- Gregory Bivens, Jamar Moore and Ger-Cari Caldwell -- and sophomore starting QB Dustin Noller back in the fold. Defensive backs Fentrell Cypress and D'Arthur Ratchford will lead the Trojans' secondary, while John Odom gives Northwestern a college-recruited player on the defensive line. Greg McMoore and Tre Simms will start on the offensive line, and solidly-built running back Antonio Heath returns after a year-long hiatus.

Who's gone? Pass-catcher and hustle guy Jordan Starkes heads to Furman to play college baseball, while defensive line leader Chance Miller is off to Newberry to play college football. Secondary standouts La'dell Massey and Freddie Cunningham will need to be replaced; likewise for Shrine Bowler K.D. Canaty and Josiah Ivey on the offensive line. Kicker Thomas Gettys graduated, but freshman Nick Acus was booting kickoffs into the end zone this spring, so Northwestern should be okay there.

Number to know: 10.7 - Cypress finished fourth at the 5A track and field state championship in the 100-meter earlier this month, running a 10.70. Cypress, who has scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke and Appalachian State, will lead a very tall defensive secondary for the Trojans, one that will have at least three starters 6-foot or larger.

Coach said: Martin thinks Northwestern's offensive success is "gonna boil down to, going through the summer, how much confidence we build, taking what we learned in the spring, build off of it, build off the summer. But I think the offense has got an opportunity to be explosive at any point in time, just because of the ability to have a lot of play-makers on the field."

2018 schedule

August: 17 at South Pointe; 24 at Byrnes; 31 Dorman

September: 6 Ridge View; 14 Sumter; 21 at Dutch Fork; 28 Bye

October: 5 at Clover; 12 Nation Ford; 19 at Fort Mill; 26 Rock Hill

Check out a couple of highlight plays from Northwestern High school’s 2018 spring football scrimmage, held May 17 in Rock Hill, and also hear from the Trojans’ new offensive play-caller, Knox Baggett.

Rock Hill

Who's back? Rock Hill returns All-Area defensive player of the year Narii Gaither, who may see more time on offense this coming season. Rising junior receiver Antonio Barber is one of the most recruited players in the area and should make an impact after injury cut his 2017 season short. Tall but slim defensive back Anthony Jackson is starting to get heavy interest as well and is part of a strong secondary including Nick Ervin, Tylek Edwards, Tyreil White and several other options. Tavin Jackson and Robbie Ouzts give Rock Hill a pair of big and strong tight end-types, while Hayden Jackson starts at QB after appearing there several games last season. Carson Murray and Devin Armstorng are two starting offensive linemen that return. The Bearcats' defensive line is anchored by Logan Hicks, who coach Bubba Pittman called "almost unblockable" this spring.

Who's gone? Warhorse running back Des Buchanan was central to any Bearcat offensive success in 2017, rushing for 1,300 yards. He's graduated and headed to college football, as is offensive line anchor Devin Cannon. Starting QB Logan McFadden signed with UNC Pembroke. And cornerback Jordan Morris, who will play college ball at Coastal Carolina, is another big loss.

Number to know: 1,452 - the average enrollment of Rock Hill's 2018 non-region opponents is 1,452 students, a large decrease from 2017's average enrollment of 2,099 students. Swapping Blythewood, Boiling Springs, Gaffney and Dorman for Sumter, Chester, Indian Land and Lugoff-Elgin gives Rock Hill a better chance to compete in non-region play and decreases the likelihood that the Bearcats enter Region 4-5A action bruised and battered, mentally and physically.

Coach said: "Our biggest thing is just trying to get depth," said Pittman. "We're trying to find guys that can contribute, you know? Not first team or second teamers, but who's the third at guard? Who's the third at tackle? Which one of those rising 10th graders is going to contribute?"

2018 schedule

August: 17 at Sumter; 24 South Pointe; 31 at Chester

September: 7 Indian Land; 14 at York; 21 Lugoff-Elgin; 28 Fort Mill

October: 5 Bye; 12 at Clover; 19 Nation Ford; 26 at Northwestern

Check out highlights from the Rock Hill High football spring game May 23, 2018, as well as interviews with Bearcat standouts Anthony Jackson and Narii Gaither.

South Pointe

Who's back? Both running backs, Marice Whitlock and Joe Ervin, are back and should carry the Stallions offense next fall. Whitlock will shift to slot receiver, joining Isaac Ross and Ty Good in a talented pass-catching group. Center Jackson Chappell is getting plenty of recruiting interest, as is defensive back Jaylen Mahoney (offers from Vanderbilt, Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Kent State, Yale and Wofford). Dorian Manning, Adam Foxx and Tyrese Weeks-Minton should start on the defensive line. Dwayne Davis will lead the linebackers.

Who's gone? Whew, where to begin? The two biggest departures are QB Derion Kendrick and kicker B.T. Potter. Their unique talents won't be immediately replaceable, especially Potter. The graduation of receiver Scott Robinson Jr., defensive end Eli Adams, defensive backs Jamari Currence and B.J. Davis and numerous others, including Jalen Pickett-Hicks up front, also hurts South Pointe. And defensive coordinator Jason Winstead took the head coaching job at Goose Creek, though offensive coordinator Jason McManus ultimately turned down one at Union County to stay at South Pointe.

Number to know: 20 - the Stallions have won 20 playoff games in a row.

Coach said: Herron's "philosophy going into this year is, 'everybody's counting you out, nobody thinks you've got a chance to do it again, and, to be honest with you, you're not nearly as talented as we have been the last three years, so they may be right.' And it's gonna be up to the team to see if we can pull together and have a total team effort next year to get us back to where we're used to going. But I think as far as our team is concerned, they've got to realize they're backed against the wall worse than any team I've had since I've been a head coach."

2018 schedule

August: 17 Northwestern; 24 at Rock Hill; 31 Nation Ford

September: 7 Bye; 14 Greenville; 21 at Indian Land; 28 Westwood

October: 5 at Lancaster; 12 Richland Northeast; 19 Ridge View; 26 at York

Check out highlights from South Pointe High School’s spring football game May 24, 2018 in Rock Hill, S.C. The Herald also spoke with Stallions standouts Jackson Chappell and Joe Ervin after the scrimmage,

York

Who's back? York Coach Bobby Carroll said he has his biggest offensive line yet at York, led by huge junior Lane Towery. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound tackle, one of four OL starters back, was recently offered by Kent State and has improved greatly in the last year. He'll block for returning starters Stephen Oglesby (RB) and Tanner McKinney (QB), both of whom had solid 2017 seasons. Ethan Mitchell is a versatile athlete that can ably play QB if needed. Big and athletic sophomore J.Q. Guinn returns but will focus on defensive line after playing both sides of the ball last season. Sophomore DL Jaylon Ballard has a lot of potential, and safeties J.J. McNeal and Max Necklen and linebacker Brian Phillip give the Cougars strikers in the second and third levels.

Who's gone? For now, standout junior La'Darius Allison isn't with the team because of some personal issues. Carroll said those should be resolved either way -- as in, he rejoins the team or doesn't -- in June. Two-way star J.T. Sanders, defensive end Shamari Williams safety Tahj Reid-Stanley are all graduated, big losses each. And York will have new lead offensive coaches after the Baggett brothers left for Northwestern. Jamie Bolton will take over as offensive coordinator and Carroll's son, 23-year old Spencer, will coach York quarterbacks. And the Cougars also have a new defensive line coach, former Northwestern head coach and a longtime coworker of Carroll's, David Pierce.

Number to know: 300 - Tanner McKinney is bench-pressing close to 300 pounds and is running a 4.7 40-yard dash, evidence of his work during the last year. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound rising senior has many college coaches interested and Carroll thinks he's a Division I QB.

Coach said: "We appreciate everything they did for us," Carroll said about the departed Baggett brothers. They "wanted a change and looking into it, we felt the same way. And we wish them the best of luck."

2018 schedule

August: 17 Clover; 24 Bye; 31 Indian Land

September: 7 at Dorman; 14 Rock Hill; 21 at Fort Mill; 28 at Ridge View (at Blythewood HS)

October: 5 at Westwood; 12 Lancaster; 19 at Richland Northeast; 26 South Pointe

Check out highlights and interviews from York Comprehensive High School (S.C.) 2018 spring football scrimmage, held May 23, 2018 at the school. The Herald talked to highly-recruited offensive lineman Lane Towery and running back Stephen Oglesby.

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