He may have staggered a bit, but the king isn’t down. Despite an uncharacteristic season that saw teams take Dillon deep into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats still had enough to claim a Lower State 3A title and came mere minutes from a record-setting fifth consecutive state championship. Every team is due an off year — apparently Dillon’s was last year. Finding a quarterback will be a priority, but the barn remains full with wideout Tyquan Porter and running back Jallian Williams leading a talented group of skill players. Shamar McCollum and Zareon Hayes are back to anchor this year’s edition of the “Nasty Cats” defense.
Contenders: Lake City (9-3), Georgetown (7-5)
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Lake City and Georgetown waged war for 48 minutes — and then some — last fall, the Panthers taking an overtime victory and the league No. 2 spot. The region foes may find themselves in a similar spot when they meet in October, though a large share of the co-stars from that matchup have exhausted their high school eligibility. One of those who will be present is Lake City quarterback Chris Burnett, who threw for 2,851 yards and 35 touchdowns a season ago. Georgetown also saw its share of turnover when it comes to its roster, a handful of last year’s chief contributors back for head coach Ken Cribb. … If there is a dark horse to potentially break into the playoff mix from Region 6-3A, it is Aynor. Jody Jenerette’s ball club remains committed to the run, but with more athletic pieces than he’s had in some time will be more apt to rely on its passing game. The trio of Noah Seaver, Brayden Nobles and Ethan Martin have the speed and power to take it to the house at any time, while Seth Sarvis’ ability to throw the deep ball will surprise many. … Points will remain hard to come by against Loris, which brings back a pair of big bodies on the defensive line in Andrew Wilson and Javontae Turrentine, as well as the team’s top tackler in linebacker/safety Zack Jordan. The Lions’ fate will rest with their offense, though, the team scoring a total of 17 touchdowns a season ago. … Waccamaw is set to begin a new era as coach Shane Fidler takes the reins of the program.