08/19/10 — FOOTBALL TAB -- Southern Wayne preview

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FOOTBALL TAB -- Southern Wayne preview

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 19, 2010 2:23 PM

Bob Warren is not the kind of guy who is going to tip his hand in the preseason.

In fact, he usually doesn't say much at all.

But when the longtime Southern Wayne High School head coach was asked about his team following a recent practice, his eyes simply lit up with youthful enthusiasm.

"I feel like this year we are a lot further ahead going into the season than we were last year," said Warren. "We have been adding some new wrinkles and working hard on nailing down the blocking assignments in our offense."

With an experienced offensive line that brings back four starters from 2009, Warren and his coaching staff have been able to add some new wrinkles to the Saints' version of the Wing-T formation.

Overall, seven offensive starters from last year will once again hit the turf at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex. Among them is junior quarterback Quintin Smith.

During his sophomore season, Smith experienced an extremely steep learning curve as he settled into his role as the signal caller and the traffic cop in a sometimes chaotic backfield. One year older and better prepared for what he will see when he steps behind the center, Smith has adapted to the scheme.

"Any time you bring an experienced quarterback back for another year it helps your football team," Warren said. "The big thing now is going to be able to manage the running game, while being able to mix in a few passes to give us a little better balance."

Last season the Saints struggled to complete passes with any regularity and that futility allowed opposing defenses to stack the eight-yard box with as many as 10 players. Being able to throw when the situation arises is something that Warren hopes will help his team manage the clock and sustain drives.

After earning two wins in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play in 2009, Southern Wayne will attempt to break a two-year playoff drought.

A key to building a postseason contender will lie on defense where the Saints return seven starters from last season, including stalwart Tobias Flow at linebacker. After spending the first week of practice on conditioning and going over the offense, Warren and his assistants turned their attention to defense in week number two of workouts.

"We are not a team that does a lot of live hitting on team defense because that is how you get guys hurt," said Warren. "But we have done plenty of hitting in live drills and we have worked really hard on teaching each individual kid how to position himself to make plays."

For the first time during Warren's tenure, the program moved its practices out of the afternoon sun and into the cool breeze of the early morning.

"The kids absolutely love it and it has freed our schedule up to do some different things in two-a-days," Warren said. "We are able to have a separate special teams practice after we take a break for lunch and I think that will make us even more prepared going into that first game."

Southern Wayne opens the season Friday evening at West Craven. The Saints are 3-3 in season-opening games since 2004, including a 2-3 record against West Craven.