Thumb through Broughton’s schedule last year, and there’s reason to believe the Capitals are on the classic “learning how to win” progression.
In Billy Lane’s first year as coach in 2013, they lost a lot, by a lot, and finished 1-10.
Last year, they lost a lot by a little – five losses were by 10 points or fewer. After finishing 1-10 (0-7) again, can the Caps make the next step of winning a little by a little?
“We had four games that came down to a single possession. If those swing the other way, we’re a .500 team instead of a 1-10. We feel like we’re right there,” Lane said. “We feel like we have a really good core coming back.”
Part of that core is senior linebacker Austin Bell. Bell – all 5-8 of him – led the Cap-8 in tackles last year and will add H-back duties this year. He’s one of many Caps who will play on both sides of the ball.
The team is ready for a big senior year from quarterback Owen Wilkinson, who threw for more than 1,400 yards in just nine contests.
4: games that went down to the final possession last year, all losses.
“He’s the definition of a ‘steady Eddie.’ He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low,” Lane said. “He’s calm under pressure.”
Though there’s talent at receiver, Broughton plans on slinging the ball a little less than usual.
“We’re going to commit to running the ball and take our shots off play-action,” Lane said. “One of the best ways to protect your quarterback is to have a good running game, so we’re going to make a bigger commitment to running the ball this year.”
Moving up in the Cap-8 Conference isn’t easy with powers like Wake Forest and Millbrook and playoff regulars like Heritage, Leesville Road and Wakefield, but Lane thinks it can be done.
“We’re in the process of program-building,” Lane said. “This is the year we’re looking to move that meter on the scoreboard.”
Offense: Two-back shotgun.
Contributors: QB Owen Wilkinson; RB Stephen McGowan; WR/DB Devone Jackson; WR/DB Shakell Wilson; OL Idris Dendy; OL Sam Thorne; OL Ben Ralls; DE/WR Sherrod McKoy; LB/TE Austin Bell; LB Manny Paredes; DB Cameron Mitchell.
Expected team strength: Quarterback.
Question mark: Defensive line.
Player they’ll miss the most: QB/WR – Dominic Ford. Ford was a Swiss army knife of offense. He had the only 100-yard rushing game, excelled at quarterback after Wilkinson was hurt and also averaged 14.4 yards per catch.
The main number: 4 – games that went down to the final possession last year, all losses.
The quote: Lane: “We really like our core; I just wish our core was bigger. We’re working hard this summer to identify depth.”
Game to watch: Aug. 21 at Apex. Why not pick the season opener? If the Caps can get a win here, there’s a good shot of finishing the non-conference slate strong.
Last five years
2014: 1-10 (0-7)
2013: 1-10 (1-6)
2012: 2-9 (2-5)
2011: 5-6 (4-3), 4AA first round
2010: 6-6 (3-3), 4AA first round