Young talent, team growth has Indian Land football braced for ‘challenge’
If there is anything Indian Land is used to by now it is growth, but for the first-time head coach H.B. Blades says they are embracing it.
In recent years, Indian Land and Lancaster County have grown from a 2A school to a 3A school and when realignment happens next year, they will become a 4A school.
“The kids are now looking forward to the challenge, instead of running from it,” Blades said. “When I first got here, they were running from it, but the guys are excited. The mindset has changed. We have a group of great kids.”
Blades said Indian Land’s football team is steadily advancing on offense.
“We are ahead of where we were last year,” he said. “A lot of that is (Leon) Boulware is going to his second full year of offensive coordinator. So, the offense is gelling a little more.”
The Warriors are bringing back several key players this year, none bigger than recent West Point commit A.J. Jefferson, who will play both receiver and defensive back. Another leader is junior quarterback Brandon Britton, who was first-team All-Conference last year, along with offensive lineman and defensive end Jesse Mace.
As Indian Land has grown, so has some of their players. Blades points out in particular Donavan Manson, senior offensive lineman who comes in at 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, and junior offensive lineman Prestin Hawkins, who is 6-foot-7, 375 pounds.
“We have so many guys that are pretty good,” he said. “We got some beef. I am excited about that.”
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Blades said he now believes his team will get to play some of the bigger teams in the area and is looking forward to recreating rivalries with teams like Fort Mill, and maybe starting new ones with schools like Catawba Ridge.
“It is something I think will be awesome for us,” he said. “It will do great things for the area.”
When it comes to leadership, Blades points out four individuals in Jefferson, Mace, Kyler and Caden Bloxham, all of whom are seniors.
“They have been here through the transition of everything,” he said. “As freshmen, they experienced 2A football through everything up until now. So, they have seen all ends of the spectrum and they have grown with the program. I am happy to see how confident they are and how they lead.”
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“I think we can excel in any game. ‘Any given Sunday’ they say, but for us its any given Friday you can win or you can lose. I think we will be competitive in all games, but some games we need the ball to bounce our way.”
Coming next: Chester