2013 record: 2-8
Key players: Te’Qwan Walron, Gabe Gordon, Steven Crayton, Kalan Watts
Key game: vs. Shaw, Sept. 25 at Kinnett Stadium
Outlook: The 9-3 record in its second year as a football program seems like a distant memory for Northside. Since that team made it to the second round of the 2005 state playoffs, the Patriots have earned just one playoff berth and have posted zero winning records.
Last year was a near low for the team, which went 2-8, marking its second-worst record in program history.
The good news? That’s all history.
This year, the Northside players are focusing on being more of a team in hopes that that will help improve the overall product. Coach Morgan Ingram and four of his players all used the word “family” when discussing the approach this year.
“Our motto this year is family,” Ingram said. “We’re talking about becoming a brotherhood, working together more. We have a lot of improvements to make, and we know that. We’re hitting that head on, and our thought is that if we do it together it’ll be easier.”
The team has just six returning starters, three on each side of the ball, meaning it has an opportunity to start fresh and begin to build a successful future.
“We don’t have many starters back on either side of the ball,” coach Morgan Ingram said. “I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad problem, but we just look at it like it’s some new faces.” There will be a new quarterback taking over for graduated Jonathan Karastury. Ingram said that position hasn’t quite been decided yet. The offensive line is almost entirely new, but does appear to have some size that could play to Northside’s advantage.
On the left side, Mike Byrd and Dawson Waldrop are both north of 6 feet and 300 pounds.
One familiar face offensively will be Kalan Watts at running back, who rushed 56 times for 273 yards and caught 24 passes for 320 yards a year ago. As a junior, with two more years left at Northside, he is a player the Patriots could hang their hat on for the next two seasons.
Defensively, three seniors — defensive end Te’Qwan Walrond, defensive tackle Gabe Gordon and defensive back Steven Crayton — will lead the way due to some experience a year ago. Six juniors and a sophomore will compete for starting jobs, however, and that, too, should be considered a positive going forward.
It’s hard to make any preseason predictions for Northside with such turnover in the starting lineup and coming off of a two-win season. The one thing Ingram could say is that he expects to see improvement.
Whether three wins, four or five, it would be a step in the right direction. And with some fresh faces and plenty of good athletes, there’s no reason to think Northside can accomplish that this season.