A model of consistency since its opening, Southeast Raleigh’s football program faltered in 2014 as it adjusted to a third coach in four seasons.
It was the first time in school history – out of 16 seasons – the Bulldogs (4-7, 3-4) missed the postseason. Southeast lost four conference games after holding second-half leads.
Second year coach Michael Thibodeau said the team never showed cohesiveness, and he doesn’t blame them.
“That’s difficult no matter what program you’re in – that’s a lot of changeover,” he said. “This summer we’re just seeing more overall buy-in.”
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A second year in the same system will help all Bulldogs players, including star quarterback Dylan Parham (pronounced PEAR-um). Parham has committed to play for N.C. State next year.
The big-armed QB had a 50.3 percent completion rate to go with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But he came on strong to close out his junior year.
“It was a learning curve for him. He had to learn another offense,” Thibodeau said. “Throughout the season his completion percentage, his accuracy, his reads – they all got better.”
Thibodeau thinks the trajectory can continue this year. Former Enloe coach Mike Massey is the team’s new offensive coordinator.
Another former head coach, one-time North Johnston coach Scott Merserve, handles the defense. The defensive line is so stacked, said Thibodeau, that some juniors will be pushed down to JV just so they can see playing time.
“There is one group of players, who are all pushing 300-plus (pounds), who could all be on the field at the same time,” Thibodeau said. “And those are all fast players too.”
As usual, Southeast has an aggressive schedule. In nonconference action, it has D.H. Conley (8-4), Chapel Hill (11-4), Wake Forest (15-1) and a Saturday trip to Myrtle Beach to play South Carolina’s South Florence High (12-2). After those four games, Garner (13-2) awaits in the week 5 conference opener.
Missing the playoffs last year is no deterrent. Playing a schedule this tough, Thibodeau says, is what Southeast is supposed to do each year.
“We know we scheduled way up this year,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in you want to schedule where you want to be. We know we want to be back to the Southeast of the early 2000s where we were a team people didn’t want to schedule locally – or we wanted to schedule teams we knew would be in the playoffs because we were going to be there every single year.”
Offense: Pistol, multiple.
Contributors: QB Dylan Parham; WR T.J. Howard; WR Anthony Richardson; WR/DB Voshon Jones; WR Malik Ford; TE Sherman McLeod; OL Jesse Sweeney; OL Julian Holt; OL Deyonje Pendarvis; OL Donte Wooten; DL Derrick Sloan; DL Koree Lee; LB Amir Meeks; LB Isaiah Martin; DB Jabari Davis; DB Preston Bowditch.
Expected team strength: Defensive line.
Question mark: Special teams.
Player they’ll miss the most: DB Lae’Quan Sellers. The 6-foot-1 cornerback locked down his half of the field.
The main number: 61.0 – Parham completed 61 percent of his passes over the last three games of the season while tossing eight of his 15 touchdowns. However, all three games were losses.
The quote: Thibodeau: “From game 7 on we averaged about 32 points per game, 380 yards of offense.”
Game to watch: Sept. 11 vs. Chapel Hill. The Bulldogs have a murder’s row of teams in their first five games. A win here ends nonconference on a high note.
Last five seasons
2014: 4-7 (3-4)
2013: 4-7 (3-3), 4A first round
2012: 6-6 (3-4), 4A first round
2011: 9-3 (6-1), 4A second round
2010: 10-4 (6-1), 4A third round