Coach: Strait Herron, fifth year
Career record: 49-9
Last year: 12-3 overall, 5-0 in Region 3-3A; beat Hartsville 21-7 for 3A state championship
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Assistant coaches: Jason Winstead, defensive coordinator/linebackers; Pat Burris, defensive backs; Gerald Peake, defensive line; Jibrille Fewell, defensive ends; Nathan Green, outside linebackers; Jason McManus, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Lee Crawford, offensive assistants; Robert Beckler, running backs; Mike Zapolnik, offensive line; David Ard, offensive line; Welvin Simpkins, wide receivers; Jay Currence, wide receivers.
Returning starters: 6 offense, 5 defense
Twitter account: @footballSPHS
Players to watch: Sr. DB/WR Nick McCloud, Sr. ATH Chris Smith, Sr. OL Paden Lipe, Sr. OL Lamon Bryant, Sr. QB Greg Ruff, Sr. DE/LB Nick Yearwood, Soph. ATH Derion Kendrick, Sr. OL/DL Ethan Hudspeth, Sr. RB Zaylin Burris, Jr. RB Voshon St. Hill, Sr. WR Josh Wilkes, Sr. WR Quay Brown, Soph. DE Eli Adams.
The Stallions U-turned a disappointing start last season into a 3A state title, and there are plenty of reasons to believe Strait Herron’s team can end 2015 at the top of the heap too.
South Pointe is blessed with a slew of playmakers on offense and defense, including college prospects Chris Smith, Nick McCloud, Josh Wilkes and Derion Kendrick. Many of those guys will play in all three phases of the game, and it will be a balancing act keeping them all satiated and involved. Wilkes was South Pointe’s leading receiver last year with just 47 catches; three other Stallions had at least 33.
“That’s one of my biggest concerns,” said Herron about spreading the ball around. “It was a concern last year, and that’s good because I know from being a defensive coordinator, it’s tough when you’ve got a bunch of weapons, you’re trying to cover the whole field.
“It’s not about who we want to get the ball to; it’s what the defense gives us. Luckily, all four or five guys are guys we want the ball in the hands of.”
The offensive line – where South Pointe lost all five starters – needs to be addressed, but Jason McManus’ offense, led by standout senior QB Greg Ruff, should be able to overcome the O-line’s growing pains.
Last year’s team showed that even with bumps along the road, the end result is the more important.
“We learned that you can’t quit,” said Herron. “I think one of the biggest things is to have fun, have fun doing this. We turned it around as soon as we hit region last year, and that was a big part of it, we’re supposed to enjoy this. We took a lot of pressure off ourselves and just started playing and I think that’s what we learned, make this fun, stay positive.”
Aug. 21 at Nation Ford
Aug. 28 Rock Hill
Sept. 4 York
Sept. 11 at Vance (N.C.)
Sept. 18 Northwestern
Sept. 25 Open
Oct. 2 at Union County*
Oct. 9 at Chester*
Oct. 16 Lancaster*
Oct. 23 at Broome*
Oct. 30 Clinton*
*Region 3-3A game
Opponents’ 2014 records: 61-58 (.512 winning percentage)