The 2007 season was a great year for football in Columbia County. Granted, we do not have the high expectations of some areas in the Peach State, but Evans' nine-win season and the number of scholarship athletes from the county made it a year to remember.
Nearly a dozen players from last year's teams will suit up in college this fall.
All those scholarship recipients mean we lost some solid talent. As a matter of fact, 19 of last year's 29 first team all-county picks were seniors.
The cupboard is not completely bare, though. Some players will finally get their chance to shine, such as Evans quarterback and Troy Griffith, Greenbrier running back D.J. Tyson, and a few kids back this year expect to have big seasons.
Here is a look at some of the top returnees:
Jonathan Finch (junior, tailback, Evans)
Finch used his blinding speed to burst onto the scene last year. He got more and more playing time as the year went on and became a real key for the Knights' offense. He finished with 504 yards and four touchdowns on 117 carries. His numbers should soar this season. I would not be surprised if he joined great backs like Lenny Springs (Class of '88) and Zack Scott (class of '95) as 1,000-yard rushers for the Knights.
Dylan Turner (senior, defensive/offensive line, Greenbrier)
Turner has looked like a college prospect since he was in ninth grade, and nothing has changed. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound standout shined on both sides of the ball for the 'Pack last season. He did not give up a sack on offense, and he wreaked havoc on opponents from his defensive line post. It is easy to focus on the skill position guys, but Turner will make that hard to do in '08.
McCladdie was arguably the most important player for the Knights a year ago. He was a jack-of-all-trades for coach Marty Jackson -- rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown, catching 26 passes for 262 yards and two scores, and picking off six passes on defense. He just always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. With the loss of Trey Henderson, Jonathan Nicely and David Smith to graduation, McCladdie will be counted on even more heavily this fall.
Bryan Andrews (senior, cornerback, Greenbrier)
Andrews is known more for his point guard skills on the hardwood, but he can play a little football, too. Last season he was every bit as good as Coastal Carolina signee Henderson of Evans. He tied for the county lead with six interceptions and made 47 tackles. He could be a factor for the 'Pack's offense this year, too.
Kyle Tudor (senior,
Tudor gets far less recognition than the other players on this list, but he might get the most attention from college recruiters. Scouts love his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame and his physical nature. Last season, Tudor piled up 109 tackles and should be primed to lead the 'Pack in stops for a third year in a row.
Chad Chandler (senior, quarterback, Lakeside)
Chandler is fun to watch. He is far from the prototypical quarterback, but what he lacks in size he certainly makes up for in moxie. A tough-as-nails performer, Chandler was 126-for-213 passing for 1,489 yards and led the Panthers with 253 yards rushing.
Other players certainly should battle for all-county honors -- Nigel Charles (linebacker, Evans), Reuben Faloughi (end, Evans), William Banks (defensive back, Augusta Christian) and Jonathan Gibbs (defensive line, Augusta Christian), to name a few. Several players hitting the scene for the first time, such as the Griffth and Tyson, should make 2008 a fun year to watch.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.