Last season, the Furman Paladins football team finished with a 12-3 record and were runners-up for the Division 1-AA national title.
One of the keys to Furman's success was the play of Lakeside High School product Brian Bratton.
Bratton led the nation in kick returning, averaging nearly 32 yards per return, including three returns for touchdowns.
This fall, college football fans will get a chance to see Bratton and the Paladins in five televised games - three will be broadcast on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS), and two will air on Fox Sports Network.
The five broadcasts are the most ever for Furman football.
"We are thrilled our football team will be making five TV appearances," said Gary Clark, Furman athletic director. "We feel these broadcasts will help capture the excitement surrounding our program under new head coach Bobby Lamb, and we appreciate the willingness and interest of both CSS and Fox to work with us."
Bratton will be joined on the team this fall by former Panther teammate Adi Filipovic, an offensive lineman who will likely be a redshirt freshman during the 2002 campaign. Furman kicks off its season Sept. 7 against Vanderbilt on CSS.
New look Region
The Greenbrier and Lakeside high school football teams will have their hands full in Region 3-AAAA, which sports a new look this season, and should be one of the toughest football regions in the state.
With Thomson and Statesboro among the Peach State's best squads, and with teams on the rise, like Hephzibah, the region was already formidable; now, with the addition on Baldwin, Cross Creek and a very talented bunch from Jone County, Region 3-AAAA has expanded to 11 teams (Josey drops to Region 3-AAA this year).
While Baldwin was 0-9 a year ago, both Cross Creek and Jones County earned state playoff berths.
Lakeside has the more favorable region schedule this year, as the Panthers play Baldwin and Cross Creek, but do not have to face Jones County or defending Class AAAA champion Statesboro.
Greenbrier, on the other hand, doesn't play Baldwin or Glenn Hills, and the Wolfpack ends their season with as tough a six game stretch you can imagine, with road trips to Hephzibah, Jones County, and Thomson, plus home dates with Cross Creek, Burke County and Statesboro.
As a prelude to the prep football season, look for my preseason All-county team, plus team previews, in upcoming editions of the Columbia News-Times.
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