Football preview schedule
Saturday: South Robeson
Tuesday: St. Pauls
Wednesday: Red Springs
Today: Purnell Swett
Visit Robesonian.com for the rest of the previews
PEMBROKE — There is no question that the Purnell Swett football team is looking forward to a chance to change the way the Southeastern Conference looks at it this season. The coaching staff, starting with head coach Mark Heil, is preaching a “never say die” attitude for the players this year.
“You have to have that mental toughness about you to know that you’re never going to give up no matter what the score,” said defensive coordinator Adam Deese. “We’re using more biblical standpoints, you know, Goliath and David, never giving up no matter what obstacle is in front of you. Just to stand tall because anybody can beat anybody on any given day.”
As a defensive coach, Deese is no stranger to wanting his team to build a tougher skin heading into gamedays.
“If you don’t have toughness, you’re not going to have a football team,” he said. “We have to have a backbone about ourselves. If we get knocked down, we’re gonna grab the dirt that much harder and come back and punch you in the face.”
It isn’t just the players that are looking to step up either, as the coaching staff has realized they are who the team is looking to.
“If we slack off they slack off, so we’ve turned our volume up and it’s caused the players to turn their volume up, and I think we’re going to see a change this year,” Deese said. “We’re adding some young coaches with a high energy and everybody’s intense out here, because we know we need to change our program around and get back to our winning ways.”
The Ram coaching staff has come to grips with the idea that they may not have any mind-blowing talent on the team this season, and instead is looking to adapt the gameplan to the talent they do have on the field.
“We might not have the athletes to match up with everybody,” Deese said, “but if we can be in the right places at the right time, you can counter that, and a lot of that depends on the team’s heart, and I take heart over talent any day.”
“You just have to fight,” senior quarterback Thristian Lowry said. “Teams in the past would get down and hold our heads down, but I think this years team will start to pick it up.”
For that concept to work, the team needs to work together, and Deese says they are definitally seeing the signs of camaraderie on the practice fields.
“You can’t have any ‘I’s’ on your team,” he said. “That’s one thing that has been progressing here as this team going into camp, and it’s one thing we’re happy about seeing as coaches.”
Senior wide receiver Josh Brooks also says the team has been playing together better so far this year.
“It’s more of a team,” he said. “We had a lot of talented individuals last year. We have a better combination of people this year. A lot of encouragement for each other.”
The team is also seeing some of the younger players, in particular on the defensive end, stepping up and taking some bigger roles on the team.
“We’ve got some young guys who are coming back as juniors,” he said. “We’re going to try and get some athletes out there and try to get our faster guys out on the edge to set a presence out there.”
With the always tough SEC schedule looming in front of them, the coaching staff for the Rams feel if they can get through a tough league schedule, they could make some noise in the post season.
“I would put our conference against anybody else in the state,” Deese said. “I think that’s a building block, once you make that playoff run, you’ve played some tough teams and it’s going to make your playoff run that much more successful, because you’re going against the top now.”
Coach: Mark Heil
Last year: 3-8 (1-4), missed the playoffs
Projected finish: 4-7
Outlook: The Rams should be able to improve on last year’s season as they are bringing back a solid core of veterans, including senior quarterback Thristian Lowry. The defense also looks to be stronger this year, as the team is returning most of its secondary from last season. “We might not have the athletes to match up with everybody, but if we can be in the right places at the right time, you can counter affect that, and a lot of that depends on the teams heart, and I take heart over talent any day,” defensive coordinator Adam Deese said.
Aug. 22 @ Pine Forest
Aug. 29 vs. Red Springs
Sept. 5 vs. Hoggard
Sept. 12 @ New Hanover
Sept. 19 @ Anson
Sept. 26 vs. North Brunswick
Oct. 3 Bye
Oct. 10 @ Scotland
Oct. 17 vs. Richmond
Oct. 24 vs. Pinecrest*
Oct. 31 @ Hoke
Nov. 7 @ Lumberton