It was exactly one week before the high school football season opened, and St. David’s School football players were tirelessly conditioning.
The recent practice wasn’t pegged as the Warriors’ conditioning day – it was something on which they had to focus if they want to be competitive this year.
The numbers at St. David’s this season are low.
“We need everybody to play on all phases and stay healthy,” St. David’s coach Daniel Evans said, “so we’re just trying to make sure we’re in shape once the season starts so we can get the most out of the guys we do have.”
Evans said his 21-man roster will have a huge hole to fill with the graduation of middle linebacker Reef Ivey.
The second-year coach said several seniors can provide reliable production, including running back Melvin Briggs II and tight ends Braxton Montague and David Pierce.
Quarterback Garrett Lewis also returns for the Warriors.
“He had a great summer,” Evans said of his junior QB, “and I expect that will translate on the field.”
St. David’s finished 7-4 last season and will play in a conference that features Rocky Mount Academy, the NCISAA 8-man defending champion who wiped the Warriors out of playoffs last year, and Arendell Parrott Academy, the team that wants to take down RMA. Rocky Mount Academy posted a perfect season in 2014.
“They’re it,” Evans said. “They’re the cream of the crop as far as our conference is concerned.”
Evans still suggested his team eyes a top finish.
“The ultimate goal is to win the conference championship and state championship,” Evans said. “I think we’ve got the potential to do it. It’s just going to be a matter of those key plays in two or three games – if we can get them on our side.”
Contributors: RB Melvin Briggs II, QB Garrett Lewis, TE Braxton Montague, TE David Pierce.
Expected team strength: Offensive returners.
Question mark: Depth
Player they’ll miss: MLB Reef Ivey. Evans said he was the leading tackler on defense and one of the team’s best blockers on offense.
The number: 21. Number of players on the 2015 roster.
The quote: Evans on depth: “A full team in usually about 16 guys (in 8-man football), and some teams have even less than that. We’re blessed. We’ve got around 20 this year but still want to maximize what we’ve got.”
Game to watch: Sept. 4 at Parrott. An early, tough competitor will be a good test for how things could shake out near the end of the season for St. David’s.
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Tom Shanahan contributed to this report.
Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan