High School Sports

Preseason High School Football Capsules: Observer-area upper state SC

Northwestern quarterback #15 Gage Moloney avoids the defense to get off a pass as Northwestern dominates Westwood in 4A Division II playoff football. 11-27-2015
Northwestern quarterback #15 Gage Moloney avoids the defense to get off a pass as Northwestern dominates Westwood in 4A Division II playoff football. 11-27-2015 Special to The Herald

The Observer’s county-by-county high school football previews began this week. Today, the newspaper continues the previews with a look at Observer-area schools in Upper State South Carolina.

Look for additional previews throughout the week.

Correspondent Jay Edwards has compiled capsules for the Observer’s area schools. These will be presented by county.

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Gaston County Team Previews

Iredell County Team Previews

Upper State South Carolina Football Capsules


Head Coach: Andrew Moon (1st year as Carolina Crusaders

2015 Record: 11-1 (9-0 in the Pioneer Football League)

Key Returning Starters: Jonah Tursi, Sr., WR (5-11, 170); Isaac Bruce, Jr., OL (5-10, 278); Caleb Carter, Jr., OL/DL (6-1, 300); Tucker Rayborn, Jr., OL (6-3, 235).

Key Newcomers: Chris Downs, Jr., QB.

Returning Starters: N/A

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: The Crusaders won the Pioneer Football League (PFL) for the fourth time in five years last year and will have the same expectations this season, even with a younger overall team.


Head Coach: Ed Susi (10th year as Fort Mill head football coach)

2015 Record: 6-6 (2-4 in the Region III, 4A)

Key Returning Starters: Ryan Deluca, Sr., QB (5-9, 165); Ronnie Hughes, Sr., RB (5-9, 165); Gus Jarosz, Sr., Slot/WR (5-6, 150); Thomas Chrisley, Sr., WR (6-1, 170); Patrick Thomas, Sr., OL (6-0, 215); Ryan Heriot, Jr., WR/DB (5-10, 170); Grant Stevens, Jr., DB (5-10, 155); Patrick Mead, Sr., LB (6-1, 245).

Key Newcomers: Gray Thomas, Jr., DB (5-9, 150); Shane Boyle, Jr., WR/DB (5-6, 145); Nolan McGraw, Sr., OL; Jaquan Johnson, Sr., DL; Quez Thomas, Sr., DL.

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Lettermen: 20

Outlook: The Yellow Jackets have a hard-working, tight-knit team, led by senior QB Ryan Deluca and senior RB Ronnie Hughes, that is capable of winning big games. But competing in the newly formed Region IV 5A won’t be easy with a bitter, backyard rival in every league game.


Head Coach: Michael Mayer (16th year as Indian Land head coach)

2015 Record: 7-4 (4-2 in Region IIII, 2A)

Key Returning Starters: Lee Massey, Sr., RB (5-11, 200); Dillon Howie, Sr., LB (6-0, 190); Jake Locklear, Jr., OL/DL (6-4, 265); Stone Potts, Sr., OL/DL (6-1, 260); Logan Teeter, Sr., LB/TE (6-0, 235); David Loughry, II, Jr., QB (6-3, 175); Ethan Burdette, Sr., LB (5-10, 190); John Gregory, Jr., DB (6-2, 170).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Returning Starters: 14 (7 offense; 7 defense)

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: The Warriors will make the step up in Region IV AAA (from AA), but have an experienced coach in Michael Mayer, who returns 14 starters (seven on both sides of the ball), led by senior RB Lee Massey (967 yards rushing last season). That should give the team a good chance to contend for a region title and be a factor in the postseason.


Head Coach: David Pierce (1st year as Northwestern head coach)

2015 Record: 14-1 (6-0, Region III, 4A champions)

Key Returning Starters: Gage Maloney, Sr., QB (6-2, 210); Logan Rudolph, Sr., DE/TE (6-4, 225); Jerry Howard, Sr., RB (6-1, 215); Jordan Starkes, Jr., WR (5-11, 180); Ali Shockley, Sr., WR/DB (6-1, 185); Caliphe Brice, Sr., LB (6-2, 210); Jamario Holley, So., WR (5-10, 165).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Returning Starters: 9

Returning Lettermen: N/A

Outlook: 29-year assistant coach David Piercetakes over a Trojan team ranked as high as No. 17 in the country in maxpreps’ preseason poll. The defending, AAAA state champions are loaded once again -- from senior QB Gage Maloney (3,969 yards passing, 47 touchdown passes/Ohio University commit) to RB Jerry Howard (1,570 yards rushing/East Carolina commit) to DE Logan Rudolph (14.5 sacks/Clemson commit). Northwestern expects to be playing for a state championship in December every year.


Head Coach: Strait Herron (6th year as South Pointe head football coach)

2015 Record: 14-1 (5-0 in FILL)

Key Returning Starters: Derion Kendrick, Jr., FS/ATH (6-0, 190); Eli Adams, Jr., DE/LB (6-0, 230); Bryson Cooper, Sr., LB (5-11, 200); B.T. Potter, Jr., K (5-11, 165); Ken

Key Newcomers: Justin Reese, So., DB (5-10, 160); Devon White, So., DE (6-2, 185); Steven Gilmore, Jr., ATH/QB/DB (5-11, 160).

Returning Starters: 8

Returning Lettermen: 25

Outlook: The Stallions have won 26 games, including back-to-back AAA state championships in the last two years. But Coach Strait Herron knows his team faces one of their biggest challenges as they move up to Region III AAAA (from Reg. III, AAA) and must replace 14 starters in the process. South Pointe does have a defense capable of dominating games, with great athletes like FS/ATH Derion Kendrick (15 college offers, including Alabama, Clemson) who can make game-changing plays.


Head Coach: Bobby Carroll (6th year as York head football coach; 100-35 overall)

2015 Record: 8-4 (6-2 in the Region III, 4A)

Key Returning Starters: Wally Wilmore, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 185); Jae

Key Newcomers: Ladarius Allison, So., WR (6-0, 185); Jacob Stegall, Jr., OL (6-3, 300); Shamari Williams, Sr., DE (6-6, 240).

Returning Starters: 12

Returning Lettermen: 25

Outlook: Coach Bobby Carroll has won 51 games in five years at York, helping transform them into annual state contenders. This season, the Cougars -- led by versatile senior playmakers Wally Wilmore (WR/DB) and Jae’vion Matthews -- look to win the new-look, Region III (4A), where South Pointe and Lancaster will be their biggest challengers.

Note: Rock Hill and Nation Ford High Schools did not return preseason information forms requested by the Observer