As he exited the practice field on Wednesday morning, first-year Overhills football coach Mark Kirk was left thinking about a different sport in regard to the pace in which his team must catch up.
“We’re in NASCAR mode. Everything is fast because we had to introduce offense, defense and special teams,” Kirk said. “I’m not making an excuse, we just had to do everything faster than everyone else.”
Kirk was one of the last coaching hires in the state, hired in early July. The 37-year coaching veteran is returning to the Sandhills and Harnett County for the first time since 2008. He’s spent most of his career in Pennsylvania.
He inherited an athletic group that is coming off the second-best season in school history (6-6).
Is the talent equipped for Kirk’s offense?
There’s still a four-way battle at quarterback between incumbent David Rose, Earl Gaddis, Autavion Bell and Claude England.
Whoever wins the job will have speedy options to get the ball to, including Latrell Lloyd. That goes well with the “wing spread” that combines Wing-T concepts with a spread shotgun look.
“We don’t have a lot of size, but we have a lot of speed,” Kirk said. “We’re trying to get on the edge, and if we can’t get on the edge it’s a lot of misdirection. We’re not going to power over anybody.”
How does the schedule shape up?
Overhills has a tough Pinecrest team – ranked No. 8 in The N&O area – to open followed by three winnable games against county rivals. Last year the Jaguars defeated the three for Dan Richards Cup bragging rights by an average score of 47-13.
The biggest test is in the Jags’ conference, where all four losses a year ago weren’t close.
How is the coach and team adjusting to one another?
There’s a mutual understanding that coming together quickly won’t be easy for either side, but the Jaguars are pulling together.
“I think they have an understanding that we care about them a lot, and that we’re in their best interest, and we’re trying to do everything we can to make them better,” Kirk said.
More on the Jaguars
Last year: 6-6* 2-4 (Mid-South 4A), first round 4A playoffs
Five year average: 5-7 (2-4)
Preseason N&O rank: Unranked
Offense: Wing Spread
Coaches: Mark Kirk (HC), Len Annetta (QBs), Harry Chubbs (QBs/DBs), K.J. Starr (RBs/LBs), Derrick Austin (WRs), Terry Stanley (OL/DL), Prentice Bryant (LBs), Bryon Comly (DBs), Thomas Bridges (quality control)
Contributors: Latrell Lloyd (Jr., RB), Jai Irvin (Jr., WR), Apollo Pupuhi (Jr., WR), Will Mabry (Jr., WR), Pedro Gama (Jr., TE), Dylan Crawford (Sr., C), Kaleb Huss (Sr., OG), Cody Altenberg (Sr., DL), Brandon McLean (Sr., OL/DL), Isaiah Robinson (Jr., LB)
The main number: 131 – the Jaguars had 131 players at its combined varsity/JV practice.
*Overhills picked up a forfeit win later in the year after losing to Pinecrest in the opener.
Aug. 19 at Pinecrest, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Triton, 7 p.m.
Sep. 2 at Western Harnett, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9 at Harnett Central, 7 p.m.
Sep. 16 at Lumberton, 7 p.m.
Sep. 23* at South View , 7 p.m.
Sep. 30* vs. Cape Fear, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* BYE
Oct. 14* at Seventy-First, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* vs. Pine Forest, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* at E.E. Smith, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* vs. Jack Britt, 7 p.m.
Note: *Conference game.