Lexington-Richland School District Five high schools have entered their first full week of preseason football camp with the 2017 season looming.

Chapin is coming off of its best season under head coach Justin Gentry in 2016. The Eagles reached the state semifinals for the first time in over 30 years and Gentry believes that momentum should carry over into this fall.

Chapin head coach Justin Gentry gives his team instructions prior to their first full practice in pads Wednesday.

Chapin head coach Justin Gentry gives his team instructions prior to their first full practice in pads Wednesday.

“Everything we’ve done the last several years is built into what we are trying to accomplish this season,” Gentry said. “Our war cry this season is for our players to give us one more week. What’s it worth it to you to go one more week? We’ll be young this season, but we like the youth that we have. We’re counting on the seniors that we have to step it up.”

Dutch Fork enters 2017 as the team with the biggest target on its back in Class AAAAA. The Silver Foxes finished a perfect 15-0 last year – the first ever undefeated season in school history, and won its second state championship under head coach Tom Knotts.

Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts lines up a receiver during a drill at Wednesday's practice.

Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts lines up a receiver during a drill at Wednesday’s practice.

“When you set your goals as lofty as we do, it can put pressure on your kids,” Knotts said. “But I know our players are capable of handling it. I love our talent level that we have this year. We have a lot of speed and some real playmakers. Right now, it’s all about working on being great players every play, every series, every day. I am excited to see what the season holds.”

Irmo hopes to continue its upward trend under head coach Reggie Kennedy, who have reached the playoffs in the past two seasons. Kennedy thinks this Yellow Jackets team could be one of his best yet because of the work they have put in this offseason.

 

Irmo head coach Reggie Kennedy talks with one of his linebackers about a previous play.

Irmo head coach Reggie Kennedy talks with one of his linebackers about a previous play.

“This is the fastest and strongest we have been since I arrived four years ago,” Kennedy said. “This year is all about taking the next step. We’ve made the playoffs the past two years, but we haven’t advanced. We need to win a playoff game. That’s what we have been preaching to our guys this offseason. It’s all a part of the process since we began rebuilding in 2014.”

All District Five schools kick off their regular seasons on August 18. Chapin travels to River Bluff, Dutch Fork travels to Independence, North Carolina and Irmo will host Nation Ford.

 

Feature photo: Dutch Fork defensive lineman Jamar Walker (96), defensive end Kendrick Allen (54) and linebacker Edward Owusu (45) swarm the Greenville running back at the line of scrimmage for the stop.