08/21/08 — Football preview: Southern Wayne

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Football preview: Southern Wayne

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 21, 2008 1:35 PM

When the coaches of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference met recently to vote for the annual preseason poll, the group came up with a surprising list of conference-title hopefuls.

Southern Wayne wasn't in the mix.

The defending conference champions, the Saints were picked to finish last.

What may seem like a motivating tool for other coaches simply brought a wry smile to veteran head coach Bob Warren's face after practice last week.

"I got to the field today and the guys were all asking if I had seen the paper," said Warren. "I don't usually look at the papers or the polls for that matter, but I know that the kids were talking about it."

One reason the Saints may have been overlooked by the other conference coaches is the loss of 3,000 yards of offense in the backfield. Kelvin Flow, the SWHS do-it-all back, was the marquee graduate from the class of 2007.

"I am sure that all the coaches know that Kelvin graduated, and that's to be expected," Warren said. "I am not the kind of guy that keeps up with other teams' rosters and tries to figure out who will be good based on who they have returning.

"When we prepare to play a team, I watch tape and see how they line up on defense and things like that. I don't focus much on individuals or one-on-one matchups."

Warren also knows that preseason voting has more to do with tradition than personnel.

"When we go to the meeting it's hard for me to put the teams in order, so a lot of times I rely on the teams that have been historically strong," said Warren. "That usually favors the Wilson teams because they have a tradition of winning."

At the end of the day, Warren knows that the game is not played on paper, a fact that he hopes to get across to his team as they continue to prepare for the regular season opener.

"We weren't picked to win the conference last season, either," Warren joked.

The 2008 edition of the Saints will feature an experienced quarterback, a variety of options in the backfield and an offensive line that returns three starters from last season.

"We have a lot of good players back, but with that said we know that there are a lot of holes to fill too," said Warren. "As a team that likes to run between the tackles, it is a luxury to have three starters back on the line and another at tight end."

Jordan Williams will initiate the Southern Wayne offense from the quarterback position. Among his many weapons will be tight end Scott Holloman and split end Desmond Raeford.

Choosing not to single out individuals, Warren made note of the team's effort and overall potential.

"As a team we have had some great practices lately, our kids are working very hard," said Warren. "We have been battling the heat, which has made it more difficult, but it has certainly made us better."

The way that the Southern Wayne coaching staff structures each workout also makes it hard for individuals to stand out from the rest of their respective units.

"We don't do a lot of full speed offense versus defense during preseason practice," Warren said. "When you get 22 guys out there going full speed, that's when injuries happen ... twisted ankles, knees and things like that.

"The last thing we want is to have our players beating on each other."

The Saints open the season Friday at West Craven.