“I’ve been telling my kids two things: No. 1 is that the last 15 years have nothing to do with this year,” Nurnberg said. “No. 2 is that we look at last year’s team, which we feel should have had a winning record, and we look to correct those mistakes. We aren’t trying to fix the past; we are just trying to get this year right.”
Certainly there aren’t too many athletes on the roster this year who have been through much of that history. The team returns six starters - three on the offensive line - from a team that went 3-7 last year with victories against Columbus, Kendrick and Spencer, of which the last two finished 1-9 and in the only spots below Jordan in the Region 5-AA standings.
“We don’t have a ton of experienced guys back,” Nurnberg said. “We had some guys who got a little bit of playing time last year, but it’s nothing like the ton they will get this year. For the most part it will be a lot of new faces out there.”
Youngin’s on offense
The Red Jackets do have a good foundation, at least on an offensive line that Nurnberg said he expects to stand out as it returns Josh Anthony, Baron Smith and Omega Hamilton.
That should fit well with a group of skill players Hamilton described as having, “strength, speed, we’ve just got talent.”
Linebacker and running back Mark Whitehead has some experience carrying the ball, but he has been utilized more on defense.
And other than those three lineman and a few part-time players, it’s almost all new all the way down to arguably the most important position o the field - the quarterback.
Sophomore Austin McKinnon takes over this season, and while young, seems ready to take on the challenge, Nurnberg said.
“He’s just a natural athlete and a smart guy with good leadership skills,” Nurnberg said of McKinnon. “I know he can handle it. He’s a sophomore, so he is going to have a big learning curve, but he is doing very well by far.”
Shoes to fill on defense
In the secondary, Damond Wyatt returns along with Katron Jones. Add in Whitehead at linebacker and that’s Jordan’s experience.
The team lost everyone else, and Nurnberg said he is looking for more leadership on that side of the ball.
“The hardest thing to replace this year is the leadership on defense,” Nurnberg said. “The entire front six basically were seniors. We have one guy coming back, and all but one of our defensive backs were seniors. We still have talent, it’s just that we’re missing that leadership we need on defense.”
Nurnberg said he expects Carver and Callaway to return loaded again and as the frontrunners for the top two playoff spots in Region 5-AA, but that anything is possible and Jordan hopes to be in the midst of a pack of teams competing for a postseason berth.
"We expect to be competitive in our region," Nurnberg said. "We have no idea what our region is going to look like. We don't even know what we look like.
"I think we've got a good shot if we keep getting better. Our goal is the playoffs, and it's been 15 years since we did it, but I think we can do it this year."
Aug 26 Fri 7:30 PM Northside (Kinnett Stadium)
Sep 02 Fri 7:30 PM Columbus (Kinnett Stadium)
Sep 09 Fri 7:30 PM at Cairo
Sep 23 Fri 7:30 PM at Heard County *
Sep 29 Thu 7:30 PM Spencer (Kinnett Stadium) *
Oct 07 Fri 7:30 PM Kendrick (Kinnett Stadium) *
Oct 15 Sat 7:30 PM Temple (Memorial Stadium) *
Oct 21 Fri 7:30 PM at Manchester *
Oct 27 Thu 7:30 PM Carver (Kinnett Stadium) *
Nov 04 Fri 9:00 PM Callaway (Kinnett Stadium) *
* Region 5-AA game
Coming up in the Ledger-Enquirer
If you're wondering how your favorite team is doing leading up to kickoff, keep checking back. I'll be going to one or two practices just about every weekday through next week or so until I have hit all 17 Bi-City schools. I'll be posting blogs, photos and videos as I visit each one, but the featured stories about the teams will begin running one a day in the Ledger-Enquirer's print edition and running them in reverse alphabetical order. Here's the schedule of which days you can find which team's story in print:
Aug. 13: Jordan
Aug. 14: Harris County
Aug. 15: Hardaway
Aug. 16: Glenwood
Aug. 17: Columbus
Aug. 18: Chattahoochee County
Aug. 19: Central-Phenix City
Aug. 20: Carver
Aug. 21: Calvary Christian
Aug. 22: Brookstone
Aug. 23: 2011 Ledger-Enquirer Dandy Dozen team announced
Have any particularly interesting questions you want me to a coach or player? Have something you'd like to read about on the blog? Have a story suggestion? Paste it in the comments or send it in an email to email@example.com and I'll do my best to get to your request when I visit that team's practice.