Victor Floyd has about 20 more players in the Chester program in his second year back at the school after a stint down in Georgia. Most of the 20 new additions are young kids, though, probably not ready to contribute at the varsity level yet.
Still, there is more optimism in Cyclone country this year for a couple of reasons. The Cyclones stayed in the new-look 3A level, which provides region opponents much more in line with Chester’s enrollment numbers. Floyd’s team also returns 14 starters and a bunch of kids that know what to expect from the veteran coach.
Even if depth is still a concern, Chester has plenty of talent. Quarterback Malik Williams was one of the best players in the area last year and he returns to school as an Appalachian State commitment.
He’s a dual threat QB and will be helped in the backfield by a three-deep rotation, at least, at running back. Sophomore Pha’Leak Brown and seniors Corey Wright and Jalyn Reid will all take turns toting the ball; the same trio will split reps at linebacker and safety as well.
Floyd has plenty of options at receiver, led by juniors John Erby and Quay Hardin. Three sophomores - Niquavian Coleman, Terrence Mills and Dorrien Bagley - will get a shot to contribute there as well.
Three really promising offensive linemen - senior Xi Simpson, sophomore Wyatt Tunall, who started last year as a rookie, and rising freshman Daniel Elkins, who is 6-foot-2, 275 pounds already - will pave the way up front.
All three defensive linemen return as seniors, led by disruptor Jarez Hardin in the middle and Ethan McGriff on the edge. Sophomore Rollo Hall is back at linebacker where he started as a ninth grader and Hardin will man the safety spot with a shot to establish himself as one of the area’s best prospects in the junior class.
Returning starters: 7 offense, 7 defense
Key returning players: Sr. QB Malik Williams; Soph. RB/LB Pha’Leak Brown; Sr. DT Jarez Hardin; Sr. RB/LB Jalyn Reid; Sr. DE Ethan McGriff; Sr. OL/DL Xi Simpson; Fr. OL Daniel Elkins; Soph. OL Wyatt Tunall; Jr. CB/WR Quay Hardin; Jr. WR/K John Erby; Soph. LB Rollo Hall; Sr. DE Radarrius Wright.
Coach Victor Floyd (2nd year)
Career record 72-62
Assistant coaching staff Ronnie Baker, defensive coordinator; Mario Hughes, defensive line; Tim Boyd, linebackers; Ricky Campbell and Jerry Caldwell, defensive backs; Chris Dodson and Shawn Reen, offensive line; Chris Powell and Jeff Lewis, wide receivers; Victor Floyd, quarterbacks/running backs.
Last season 3-7
Last 10 years combined 68-50 (58 percent)
School state championships (6) 1929, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1962
August 20 at Westwood*; 26 Franklin Christian
September 2 Keenan*; 9 Lancaster*; 16 at Lower Richland; 23 Carolina Pride; 30 Indian Land*
October 7 at Columbia; 14 Camden; 21 at Fairfield Central*; 28 Open
▪ Chester’s opponents won 52 percent of their games last season; star denotes 2015 playoff team; cursive denotes Region 4-3A opponent
Numbers to know
23 combined touchdowns scored last season by senior QB Malik Williams and sophomore running back Pha’Leak Brown.
27 percent decrease in student enrollment at Chester High School in the last 20 years.
0 winning seasons in the last three years at Chester, a run that could end in 2016.
2 straight state championship game appearances in 2007-08.
8 seniors on the Chester roster this season, meaning much of the team will be back next year as Victor Floyd continues to rebuild the Cyclones’ ranks.