Over the last three years, the Apex football team had players who were hard for anyone to contain.
But now running back Isaiah Totten, quarterback Grayson Boyd and all-everything Ian Boyd (no relation) have graduated, to the relief of many in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
Apex missed the playoffs last year but broke the 30-point mark five times, including one game with 55 points and another with 44.
But second-year coach Robert Graham is hopeful the new faces can grow into names to know.
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“We probably won’t be as explosive, but I think with the things we try to do offensively, we’re still going to get good production out of the guys we have,” Graham said. “Overall, we’ll still have some guys who can get it done, but it’s going to be a little different, how we do it. It ain’t going to look as good as what Ian and Totten were doing.”
What’s an expected team strength? Concern?
Apex should be strong on defense, particularly on the line where Chazz Washington leads the way. But the Cougars have a void in the kicking game that needs replacing.
Are players still playing both offense and defense?
Yes, and it’s almost necessary with a small roster again this year. But the biggest difference is how the players have embraced it.
“The kids now have bought into the system of being in shape and going both ways,” Graham said. “We’ve got a different attitude, working harder. ... I can see the desire.”
How does the schedule break down?
Even with losing so many players and only bringing back six seniors, the schedule will help Apex some.
In nonconference there’s Broughton coming off a 1-10 season and Sanderson, which Apex lost to 22-21 last year, to even out a game at powerhouse Wake Forest.
Apex picks up a senior-less Friendship team and faces three SWAC foes that it beat last year – Cary, Athens Drive and Panther Creek. Apex also played Green Hope close.
More on the Cougars
Last year: 4-6 (3-4 Southwest Wake 4A)
Five year average: 3-7 (2-6)
Preseason N&O rank: Unranked
Offense: Spread, double-wing
Defense: 3-5 stack
Coaches: Robert Graham (HC), Wayne McKoy (OC/QBs/RBs), Fred Blanks (DC/WRs/DBs), Coleman Tyrance (DL), Mike Bagnasco (LBs/head JV)
Contributors: Uli Santos (Jr., RB), Julian Tate-Blanks (Jr. WR/DBs), Keenan Proctor (Sr., WR/FS), Jonathan Heavner (RB/LB), Chazz Washington (Sr., OL/DL), Cliff Winefordner (Sr., OL/DL), Ethan Foote (Sr., WR/DL)
The main number: 50 – Only 50 players turned out for varsity and JV combined.
Aug. 19 at Broughton, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Wake Forest, 7 p.m.
Sep. 1# at Sanderson, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9* vs. Athens Drive, 7 p.m.
Sep. 16* at Cary, 7 p.m.
Sep. 23* vs. Holly Springs, 7 p.m.
Sep. 30* at Apex Friendship, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* vs. Fuquay-Varina, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* vs. Green Hope, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* at Panther Creek, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 BYE
Nov. 4* vs. Middle Creek, 7 p.m.
Note: *Conference game; #Thursday game.