RALEIGH — Southeast Raleigh is still Southeast Raleigh, according to new head coach Marvin Burke.
The Bulldogs must replace most of their offensive and defensive lines and need a new focus on offense following the graduation of do-everything quarterback David Washington. But Burke, a former East Carolina University linebacker who returns to Southeast this season to succeed Daniel Finn (now athletic director) as head coach, is a strong believer in the Bulldogs’ prospects.
“Southeast is always going to be Southeast,” Burke said. “Either we’ll be heavy with exceptional skill guys or linemen. There have been years where we’ve had a mix of both.”
Entering the season, Southeast’s strengths are its receivers and defensive backs and possibly linebackers. Burke was an assistant under Finn at Southeast, coordinating the defense, before becoming a head coach at Richburg (S.C.) Lewisville High the last three seasons.
“We’re not going to change much, maybe add a few things,” Burke said of his plans for the program. “These kids have had a lot of success with the things Coach Finn did and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. We just want to make it work a little better.”
Receiver/defensive backs Sandy Chapman (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) and Dante Jones (5-11, 177) are two of the Bulldogs’ returning leaders. Isaiah Walters is another player Burke believes is ready to be an impact player in the receiving unit.
The graduation of Washington, a running and passing threat, creates an area of question on Rock Quarry Road.
“The quarterback and running back positions are a big area of concern,” Burke said. “We’re looking for one or two guys to step up and take on those roles.”
Junior Demonte Spence and sophomore Cameron Marshman are the two leading candidates at quarterback. They’ll both get plenty of reps during preseason practices and in scrimmages.
“Right now, the key is to take it slow,” Burke said. “We’ll use every game we need to find a quarterback, whether it’s game one or game 10. We’re just waiting to see who takes it over.”
Sam Amumiah (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), a senior who saw time at defensive end and linebacker last season, should play a big role on the offensive line. Otherwise, the Bulldogs will rely on a mix of juniors and some sophomores to fill out the rest of the line.
The story on the defensive line is similar with positions available during preseason workouts.
That lack of experience will mean Southeast is playing more two-way players at times.
“Your ultimate goal is to put the best athletes on the field,” Burke said. “But you need to develop depth. Ideally, you’d platoon 90-percent of the time and have the best 11 players on the field the other 10 percent of the time.”