Despite a two-win football season in 2012, the worst in five season under former coach Paul Cates, new coach Morgan Ingram said he thought the team would have been in capable hands under its previous leadership.
What it may benefit from, however, is a new voice, and that's what Ingram will provide for the Patriots beginning this season.
"I think having a new voice may just give a fresh outlook," he said. "Hearing direction from someone else could be a good thing. Coach Cates is still here and so are a lot of other coaches. There's a lot of continuity. Some roles have changed, but the people aren't really different. It may just be good to have a new voice to hear things from."
Cates stepped down as the team's coach at the end of this past season with a 19-31-1 record, making way for Ingram, who is the school's athletic director and was also an assistant under Cates for five years. Prior to that, Ingram was a head coach at Hardaway (10-10 in 2006-07) and an assistant at Columbus, also under Cates.
In his first season as Northside's head coach, Ingram said that he is looking for a return to physicality and competition.
"We just want to improve our overall toughness," he said, noting that the team practiced for 10 days in pads during the spring. "I don't necessarily focus on wins. I feel more that if you do everything right, the wins will come."
That has never been easy at Northside, which has had only one winning season in its nine years of competition. The Patriots went 9-3 in 2005.
The team has a tall order this year, matched up against difficult region opponents like Thomas County Central, Harris County and an improved Hardaway.
"We want to win those games," Ingram said, "but our main focus is just to get better, and then we'll be able to compete. We've got to build to that point."
The team is up to about 80-90 players, a situation where Ingram said they might have to buy new equipment.
"It's a good sign," he said.
Signs like those are what made Ingram get back into a head coaching role.
The coach came to Northside in 2008, taking over the athletic director position and planning to go the administrative route. When Cates stepped down, however, Ingram said it felt like "someone was saying something to (me)."
"That was my first thought," he said. "I enjoy teaching. I enjoy being out on the field every day too much. Athletic director is administrative enough for me. When I'm out here (on the field), everything shuts down. Everything's good. That's what I feel out here."
And his job doesn't end at the track, he said. He enjoys the relationship with his players, being able to talk to them in his office and classroom, forming relationships with them and helping them improve on and off the field.
His role changes with each player he has, which makes his job that much more interesting and fulfilling.
"My job isn't to be their friend, but that does end up happening," he said.
"You spend so much time with them, pushing them, trying to help them improve that the relationships do happen.
"The goal is to take time to understand the kids, form a relationship.
"Knowing how to approach a person is all about knowing the person you're talking to."
He hopes that approach will build a solid foundation on which to build the Northside program. The team has made the playoffs just twice in its nine-year history, the last time coming in 2009. It's a tall order, one which may take time, but Ingram said he's in for the long haul.
"I have no reservations," he said. "(The players) have done everything we've asked them to do. They're doing what it takes to be competitive again."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter@leprepsports.