When Robert Furth took over as the third Holly Springs football coach in four years, he had to win over his team while his team had to win games.
“We had to convince those guys, ‘Look, this isn’t another coaching change. I’m going to be here,’ ” Furth said. “They didn’t trust us at first, but after we won that first game, and then two in a row and then went on a little run (four in a row), it all came together.”
Furth kept his word – he’s back for another year, and the Golden Hawks enter this year coming off a third-place finish in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
Despite all the changes, the Hawks have remained consistent: winning either 6 or 7 games in each of the last three years under three different coaches.
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Who are some players to watch?
Broderick Taylor can play quarterback or wide receiver and will make an impact wherever he lands. He, Alex Luedeke at tight end and Bryce Wheaton at wide receiver give the Golden Hawks their top three receivers back from last year.
Alijah O’Neal is a big factor for the Hawks on both sides of the line, while linebackers Dawson Wright, Caleb Ferguson, Jackson Baum and Jarrett Finch make up one of the area’s top linebacking groups.
What’s an expected team strength? Area of concern?
Four offensive linemen are back from a team that did a good job last year of controlling the line of scrimmage.
However, four two-year starters in the secondary all graduated. It’s important to have good defensive backs in a pass-happy SWAC.
What’s the biggest key?
Furth thinks winning early will be big. Wilmington’s Hoggard High comes to town in Week 1, followed by road games to N&O top-15 teams in Wakefield and Northern Durham.
If nothing else, early wins help the Hawks gain confidence for a five-week road swing. Holly Springs’ second home game is Week 7, meaning it will be Sept. 30 by the time Holly Springs plays as many games in its own stadium as Apex Friendship does.
More on the Golden Hawks
Last year: 7-5 (5-2 Southwest Wake 4A), first round 4AA playoffs
Five year average: 5-6 (4-4)
Preseason N&O rank: No. 15
Coaches: Robert Furth (HC/DC), Matt Fletcher (OC), Mike Holderman (QBs), Mike Kelly (WRs), Lee Matthews (OL), John Akins (DL), Ryan Dogget (LBs), Mike Redd (DBs) Jeff Fishback (DBs)
Contributors: Broderick Taylor (Sr., QB/WR), Jonathan Prince (Sr., RB), Bryce Wheaton (Jr., WR/DB), Jalon Wilson (Sr., WR/DB), Alex Luedeke (Jr., TE), Alijah O’Neal (Sr., OL/DL), Joe Huff (Sr., OL), Brendan Standish (Sr., OL), Michael Sredel (Jr., OL), Hunter Chaney (Sr., DL), Dawson Wright (Sr., LB), Caleb Ferguson (Sr., LB), Jackson Baum (Sr., LB/DB), Jarrett Finch (Jr., LB)
The main number: 7 – last season tied a school record for most wins in a season.
Aug. 19 vs. Hoggard, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Wakefield, 7 p.m.
Sep. 2 at Northern Durham, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9* at Green Hope, 7 p.m.
Sep. 16 BYE
Sep. 23* at Apex , 7 p.m.
Sep. 30* vs. Fuquay-Varina, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* at Middle Creek, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* vs. Panther Creek, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* at Athens Drive, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* vs. Cary, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* vs. Apex Friendship, 7 p.m.
Note: *Conference game.