Youth movement: Southern Wayne learning lessons in practice, during games
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 10, 2009 10:36 AM
The future is here for Southern Wayne football. With a mix of sophomores and juniors, the Saints should contend for the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season championship in let's say ... oh ... about two years.
They have to grow up first.
One starter returns on each side of the ball. The remaining 20 players who see action on Friday evenings are either 10th- or 11th-graders who spent time on the JV squad last season.
"That's where we get the 'youth' (statement) from," said Southern Wayne head coach Bob Warren, now entrenched in his 14th season in Dudley. "We just don't have enough games under our belt against varsity competition. Our schedule is loaded from the beginning of non-conference leading into conference play, and they're all very good teams.
"We want to play good teams and in the process, we have to get better."
Southern Wayne's program is mired in an 11-game losing streak, which challenges Warren and his staff to remain upbeat in practice, during games and especially in the post-game huddle.
The frustration rises weekly.
The players are reminded experience can't be rushed and it's a building process each week. Sooner or later the W's will flow freely.
"Athletics is about overcoming obstacles and this is an obstacle that we're going to overcome," said Warren. "(Success) takes maturity and hard work, and good things will come to those who continue to work."
Warren breaks down game film each Sunday.
When the team reports to practice on Monday, the players learn what they've done well and where they need improvement. It's a constructive teaching tool that helps shape the individual player and undoubtedly increases their confidence.
That self belief is effective when running an offensive scheme that requires repetition and consistent blocking techniques. The Saints' wing-T offense has produced just five touchdowns in 12 quarters of action this season.
"At younger levels of football, you might get by with not being as aggressive," said Warren. "Once you get up to varsity, you have to be aggressive in blocking and tackling. With the speed and strength of today's players, you can't be a step slow and still expect to accomplish your block.
"We are taking time (to teach) with this group."
It's the same on defense.
Warren and his staff have seen individuals step into their respective roles. But they've still got some growing up to do against a schedule that boasts seven playoff qualifiers from 2008.
"We're still trying to fit some of the pieces of the puzzle together because we have so many players trying to fit in," said Warren. "We're trying to figure out who is the best at what area. It's very promising."
As the future should be.