There’s a palatable sense of relief entering Year 2 of coach Chris Lee’s rebuilding project at Nash Central. This year the Bulldogs can just focus on improvement without an elephant-in-the-room: he exited when Nash Central snapped a 25-game skid last year.
“We’re going to have a chance to win four or five games and maybe two or three in the conference. We got hammered a few times late in the year last year, but for the most part we were in games,” said Lee, a former Rocky Mount assistant who had three straight winning seasons at Louisburg prior to taking over the Bulldogs.
Lee said the confidence was “sky-high” after the win and “the whole (locker) room filled up with air” but after a one-point loss the next week, the Bulldogs lost eight more to end the year 1-10.
With seven starters back on offense and six on defense, this could be the year they get over the hump.
What will be the Bulldogs’ strength?
Vernon Whitaker and speedster McKinley Lyons return to the backfield in Nash Central’s Wing-T attack. The defense could be improved as DeKalon Stample, Wrayshon Battle and Alex Nobles all return.
“I’m hoping another year in the system will help us out,” Lee said.
Who are some players to watch?
Travis Griffin takes over at quarterback after making a few starts late in the year. He showed good chemistry with C.J. Pearce, who moved to wide receiver after starting the year at QB. Nobles, Adam Moore and A.J. Floyd lead things on the offensive line.
What are the most winnable games on the schedule?
Pulling off a few wins in the Big East 3A Conference will be tough – four teams are ranked in the preseason N&O top 25 – but Nash Central gets Smithfield-Selma again and lost to North Johnston by one point last season. A good test will be in Weeks 5 and 6 when the Bulldogs get Beddingfield and a reloading Bunn team.
“We need to win a couple of games early and that can boost the morale not only of team but the whole school. The community wants a winner,” Lee said.
More on the Bulldogs
Last year: 1-10 (0-5 Big East 3A)
Five year average: 3-8 (1-4)
Preseason N&O rank: Unranked
Coaches: Chris Lee (HC/OC), Kent Cox (DC/DBs), Juan Jackson (RBs/ST), Ricardo Jerome (LBs), Shon Johnson (DL)
Contributors: Travis Griffin (Jr., QB), McKinley Lyons (Jr., RB), Vernon Whitaker (Sr., RB), C.J. Pearce (Sr., WR), Alex Nobles (Jr., OL/LB), A.J. Floyd (Sr., OL), Adam Moore (Sr., OL), DeKalon Stample (Sr., LB), Wrayshon Battle (Sr., LB), Malachi Ruffin (Jr., CB), Najee King-Knight (Sr., DB)
The main number: 7 – the Bulldogs allowed 42 or more points in each of their last seven games.
Aug. 19 at Tarboro, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Smithfield-Selma, 7 p.m.
Sep. 1# vs. North Johnston, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9 at SouthWest Edgecombe, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 16 at Beddingfield, 7 p.m.
Sep. 23 at Bunn, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 30 BYE
Oct. 7* vs. Rocky Mount, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* at Fike, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* at Northern Nash, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* vs. Hunt, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* vs. Southern Nash, 7 p.m.
Note: *Conference game; #Thursday game.