Fort Mill Sports

Warriors stance on 3A: ‘It’s still the same game’

Indian Land linemen work on a blocking drill at practice last week. The Warriors are getting ready for their move up to 3A.
Indian Land linemen work on a blocking drill at practice last week. The Warriors are getting ready for their move up to 3A.

No matter if it’s 1A or 3A or 4A, football is still football is the approach Indian Land head coach Michael Mayer is taking for the 2016 season.

By moving up from 2A to 3A, Indian Land will have an even tougher road ahead of it with the likes of Chester, South Pointe, Nation Ford and Lancaster on the schedule. Although having a schedule that is about 75 percent new opponents, Mayer said he doesn’t expect there to be a learning curve just because Indian Land is now at 3A.

“The rules of football haven’t changed,” Mayer said.

“We have told the kids for years this is coming. Next realignment we will be close to 4A one way or another. The numbers are just going to keep pouring in here.”

Indian Land has just over 80 players representing all grades (freshman to senior) playing football – more than what was in the entire graduating class in 2001, Mayer joked. Although that number wasn’t too far off. It stands to say that Mayer has seen a lot of change in his 16 seasons at Indian Land.

“I have seen the first graduating class of 100, the first graduating class of 200 and the first graduating class of 300 is going to be either the freshmen or eighth grades this year,” Mayer said.

“When I got here we didn’t even have 400 students, and now we are closing in on 1,000 quick.”

Opening up

While running the ball has been the Warriors’ bread and butter for years, it seems that as they move up in classification, they seem to get more offensive weapons. This year they are in the middle of a quarterback battle between sophomore Jay Hildreth and junior David Loughry. Mayer says they each have their own unique strengths and he just has to wait and see who stands out enough to get the starting job.

“I have two kids that can start right now and play quarterback and take the first snap in the first game,” Mayer said. “Some years we really didn’t even have another option.”

Mayer said he expects a more balanced offensive attack this season. Look for senior Lee Massey to carry the load when it comes to running the ball. He came within about 30 yards last season of hitting the 1,000-yard mark rushing the ball. Massey will get another chance at reaching the golden number again this year, even as the Warriors unveil an aggressive air attack.

“We will be able to throw the ball better than we have had in the last 10 years,” Mayer said. “I expect us to throw the ball more, but we will always run the ball. That is what fits us athletically.”

On defense, Indian Land should be strong with the front seven on the line. In the secondary, the Warriors had to replace some players, but only four on defense overall from last year.

“The linebackers are looking to be real solid,” Mayer said. “We got real good depth at linebacker this year.”

Indian Land kicks off the season Aug. 19 at home against Lancaster, a team they are used to seeing but only in a scrimmage setting. The Warriors will also play Buford, Blacksburg and Chesterfield this year, the only three teams coming back from last year’s schedule.

The Warriors travel to Nation Ford Sept. 23 for their first ever meeting with the school and will get deep into their Region IV play after that with games against Chester, Columbia, Camden and Fairfield Central.

Mac Banks:, @MacBanksFM