Southern Wayne football coach David Lee wants his team to have a short memory this year.
If something goes wrong? Move on to the next play. Worried about the streak? Move on to the next game.
The Saints enter the year with a losing skid of 28 straight games officially, but it only includes 18 on-field losses. A 2014 win over Goldsboro was later reversed for an ineligible player.
Lee has remained patient. His junior class has talent, but over the last two years he’s resisted the urge to play them on the varsity for the most part in order to let them develop a winning attitude on JV.
“We really could’ve brought them up, and that was a dilemma for us, but they were having success together as a group,” Lee said. “They went 5-5... Their losses were very, very close losses.”
Why have the Saints struggled?
Being almost the size of a large 2A in a league with four 4A teams is problematic, but it goes deeper. The Saints have needed more offseason buy-in from players. So far, so good.
“It’s been as good as it’s been in 4-5 years,” Lee said. “It’s turning around, we just need it to be contagious. We need everyone to jump on the bandwagon”
What’s the outlook for this year’s team?
There are 15-20 returners coming back to the varsity, six starters on offense and six on defense. But the Saints will still be young.
“We’ll be counting on them for us to be successful. In that aspect, we’re young,” Lee said. “We have what I feel are a few good athletes that could go almost anywhere and start. Last year they never came off the field; offense, defense special teams. They were susceptible to cramping – just overuse... This year we’ll have a few more playmakers.”
Best chance to break the streak?
The Saints’ third game of the year at North Lenoir provides a good opportunity. It was Southern Wayne’s closest loss last year, 26-21.
“I think we’re going to be a little bit more competitive this year than last year at the start of the season,” Lee said. “Any win is good.”
More on the Saints
Last year: 0-10 (0-6 Eastern Carolina 3A/4A)
Five year average: 2-9 (0-6)
Preseason N&O rank: Unranked
Coaches: David Lee (Head coach/Def. coordinator), Ronnie McClary (Off. coordinator/DL), Jackson Massey (junior varsity/QBs), Ricky Lofton (RBs/LBs), Dwayne Denning (OL/DL), Lee Herd (OL/DL), Demetrius Wright (WR/DBs)
Contributors: Josh Grady (Jr., QB), Quentin Carlton (Sr., QB/RB/LB), Manny Walker (Sr., RB/LB), Eron Ermilus (Sr. RB/LB), DeAndre Wright (Soph., RB/WR/DB), Will Newsome (Jr., WR), Chris Hatch (Jr., OL/DL), Caleb Keel (Sr., C), Eric Brewington (Sr., OL/DL),
The main number: 4 – the Saints play four teams – James Kenan, Kinston, New Bern and J.H. Rose – that have been to a state title in the last two seasons.
Aug. 19 vs. James Kenan, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 BYE
Sep. 2 vs. Goldsboro, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9 at North Lenoir, 7 p.m.
Sep. 16 at Kinston, 7 p.m.
Sep. 23* at New Bern , 7 p.m.
Sep. 30* vs. C.B. Aycock, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* vs. J.H. Rose 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* at D.H. Conley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* vs. South Central, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* at Eastern Wayne, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 BYE
Note: *Conference game.