Cary High will start another chapter in its 95-year history this fall, and this one involves not flipping back through the most recent pages. The Imps, winless last year, are wiping the slate clean.
New coach Mike Kirst, who was an offensive coordinator at Millbrook, said the team’s motto in the spring was “turn the page.”
“It can be difficult, but we’re not looking back,” Kirst said.
Kirst has embraced Cary’s football history, which includes a state championship 50 years ago this season. Former Imps like Josh Adams, who starred at Wake Forest, and former NFL player Chris Castor, have been brought in to speak to this year’s team.
Kirst has encouraged competition and let current players know they needed a higher commitment level.
“I can’t speak for the past few years because I wasn’t here, but I do know we’ve had challenges as far as kids understanding what it wakes to be successful. And a lot of that is just commitment,” Kirst said.
Scoring was the biggest problem on last year’s team. The single-wing offense produced just eight touchdowns. The Imps (0-11, 0-7) were shutout four times.
Cary will have multiple looks on offense, Kirst said. He hopes to take advantage of the Imps’ size up front, although some players may have to play both sides of the ball.
“We have potential, not just because of our size, but because we are fairly athletic up front,” Kirst said.
Cary’s defense will be strong in the secondary, but players like Jayln Brown, Isaiah Gibbons – who had 1,142 rushing yards as a sophomore but just 132 last year – and Jeff Gavalier will play offense as well. Gavalier did not play quarterback last year but should be behind center this fall.
“Everybody’s learning an offensive position and a defensive position,” Kirst said. “But we’ll be a better team because of that.”
Offense: Spread, multiple.
Defense: 4-3, multiple.
Contributors: RB/DB Isaiah Gibbons; RB/DB Jayln Brown; WR Brian Dulaney; OL Max Wagner; OL Joshua Humphrey; DL/OL Rod Perry II; DL Keenen Evans; LB J.T. Berkowitz; LB Noah Goldman; S/QB Jeff Gavalier.
Expected team strength: Secondary.
Question mark: Quarterback.
Player they'll miss the most: RB Trevion Hackney. Had half of his team’s 10 touchdowns on the year (two rushing, two receiving, one kickoff return).
The main number: 7.1 – points per game in 2014.
The quote: Kirst: “Nothing about the last couple of years needed to be discussed, and that’s out of no disrespect to anyone – player or coach. It just did us no good to look back. And quite frankly, if last year Cary was 10-3, it still does us no good to look back, except to correct the mistakes.”
Game to watch: Oct. 16 vs Athens Drive. The Imps played tight with the Jaguars last year, falling 15-10 in the finale.
Last five years
2014: 0-11 (0-7)
2013: 4-7 (2-5)
2012: 5-6 (4-4), 4AA first round
2011: 9-3 (6-2), 4AA second round
2010: 9-3 (6-2), 4AA first round
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Up next: Ravenscroft, Enloe