08/22/11 — FOOTBALL TAB -- Sutton confident his labor is paying off

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FOOTBALL TAB -- Sutton confident his labor is paying off

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 22, 2011 1:47 PM

Changing the culture at a tradition-rich baseball school hasn't been an easy task for North Lenoir alum Calvin Sutton, but he has seen some progress heading into his third season at Wheat Swamp.

The system is working and that's the first of many steps to producing a consistent winner, which Sutton hopes will boost fan support on Friday nights at Bullock Field.

"A lot of people and the older coaches have told me that you have to have the right stuff in place," said Sutton. "It takes an average of about three years to see your work generate a return, and I'm actually starting to see that a little bit, which is good.

"A lot of people now know the system and what I expect of them, and what I expect of the program (overall). This is not a program that's going to change overnight. It's going to take a little effort, a little elbow grease and it seems like we have that going on this year."

Sixteen lettermen, including 12 starters, return off last year's team which logged two wins, but suffered a shutout (0-5) in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play.

Dual-threat quarterback Jaquan Williams will direct the Hawks' flexbone offense. Williams played two under games under center last year, but stepped back into an understudy role when Romero Arnold returned from basic training.

Arnold is now at Methodist University.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Jaquan grow," said Sutton.

Marsharee Troy toiled through an injury-riddled season last fall and is 100-percent healthy. He's shown a good work ethic in preseason drills along with receiver Chris Moore, who could turn into a go-to receiver for Williams.

"Chris is not the fastest player on the field (and) not the tallest player on the field," grinned Sutton. "But he runs routes crisp and what we're going to try to do on offense will fit his talents. He can catch the ball pretty good, and he could be a possession-type receiver for us."

Nearly everyone returns on the offensive line, including center Jaquan Dupree and guard Martin Braswell. Sutton has also seen promise from newcomer Adrian Conyers, an underclassmen who could earn considerable playing time on the varsity level.

The Hawks' big three on defense are Billy Summers, Martin Braswell and Brandon Fisher. Summers is the end, while Braswell is the "Sam" linebacker in Sutton's 4-3 scheme.

Fisher missed part of the season due to a suspension meted out from the N.C. High School Athletic Association after a skirmish with Pamlico County players. Before his campaign was cut short, Fisher had two pick sixes and three interceptions overall.

"We're looking for big things from Brandon," said Sutton.

Sutton and his staff hope to put a consistent and prepared team on the field each week that win one play at a time. Playing experience is a strength, but the Hawks will have to overcome bigger and stronger-skilled opponents at times this season.

The Hawks will play 11 consecutive weeks, including non-conference affairs against West Montgomery and Davidson Day School. The season opener is Friday against border rival Greene Central.