By CT McDonald

While the southern August sun bakes the outdoor fields and courts, and the humidity drives up the heat index, local high school athletes, coaches and staff are getting ready for the upcoming 2019 – 2020 season.

The first official games of the regular season are still a few weeks away, but practice has already started for some teams, and scrimmages and preseason tournaments are just ahead.

And there are a couple of noteworthy changes and events included to make things in District Five even more interesting.

New head coach Aaron Brand has taken the reins of the Irmo High Football program, and veteran Irmo coach and teacher Ray Canady heads up the entire Yellow Jackets Athletics Program as the new athletics director (AD). Brand brings experience from his North Carolina coaching assignments, as did previous Irmo AD and head football coach Bob Hanna and current Dutch Fork AD and head football coach Tom Knotts. Canady has taught and coached, notably baseball, at Irmo since the early 90’s.

Also, Knotts and the defending state champion varsity Dutch Fork football team will try again this year to take on North Carolina’s Mallard Creek after last year’s much anticipated game at North Carolina was canceled because of rain.

This year Mallard Creek will visit Dutch Fork Friday, August 23 for the big game and it is to air on ESPN 2 at 6 pm, according to information by the Dutch Fork Touchdown Club.

Longtime Chapin head football coach Justin Gentry returns with his 2019 football team, as does another District Five veteran with multiple state championships; Eagles head coach Vicki Williams and the 2019 competitive cheer team.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg of top-notch teams, coaches and programs in the school district, the message is that things are brewing now at the communities’ local schools and fall games will soon follow.

Chapin and Dutch Fork will compete in Region 5-5A again this year, along with Lexington, River Bluff and White Knoll, while Irmo is once again competing in Region 4-5A, along with Blythewood, Lugoff-Elgin, Spring Valley and Sumter.

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