A year ago, Fuquay-Varina gave every team on its schedule a run for their money. But, as coach Jeb Hall laments, it was for usually for one half.
For the most part, the Bengals either started off hot or came roaring back late.
“We weren’t consistent,” Hall said. “We’ve got to put both halves together.”
Fuquay hopes a few moveable parts on offense and 10 of 11 starters back on defense gets the job done.
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The Bengals’ most noted position is the B-back, more commonly known as a fullback. The player who wins the job gets the reward of being hit on almost every play – and a lot of carries.
Sophomore Isaac Morgan and seniors Colten Smith and Josh Arrington are battling to be the guy.
“It could be a number of guys,” Hall said. “Once we get the pads on, that’s when we’ll be able to tell who’s got it.”
Former wide receiver Michael Roberson will be the team’s big-play option at wingback, where former safety Cammron Milligan will also help out. Also changing positions is all-conference tight end Jake Slater, who will play offensive line and be the only senior starter.
Quarterback Brycen Braswell is relied on to run the option. His willingness to take a hit is emblematic of the rest of the team.
“They’re not scared of anybody, and that’s good,” Hall said. “They’re tough kids.”
The Bengals’ defense is led by four-year starting linebacker Austin Pluckhorn. In the secondary, Zack James leads with nine interceptions over the last two years.
“Hopefully our defense will be able to carry us while we figure the offense out,” Hall said.
Contributors: QB Brycen Braswell; RB Michael Roberson; RB Cammron Milligan; FB Colten Smith; WR Travis Knick; WR Christian Pollard; OL Jake Slater; OL Kevin Martinez; OL/DL Jonathan Cole; DL John Royal; DL Ryan Fealey; LB Austin Pluckhorn; DB Zack James; S Josh Arrington.
Expected team strength: Linebackers.
Question mark: Running backs.
Player they’ll miss the most: Damarus Williams. The B-back had 1,521 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground.
The main number: 10 – Fuquay-Varina has made it to 10 straight postseasons.
The quote: Hall: “We’re going to spread it out some more. We’ve got some talented players and we’re going to get them the ball more.”
Game to watch: Sept. 11 at Cleveland. The Rams will test the Bengals’ experienced defense.
Last five seasons:
2014: 5-7 (3-4), 4AA first round
2013: 6-6 (3-4), 4AA first round
2012: 7-5 (5-3), 4AA second round
2011: 10-2 (7-1), 4AA second round
2010: 11-2 (7-1), 4AA second round