Football preview schedule
Saturday: South Robeson
Today: St. Pauls
Wednesday: Red Springs
Thursday: Purnell Swett
ST. PAULS — While St. Pauls High School will be running the same offensive scheme as they have in years past, this year’s squad will have a much different look.
The team will be presenting a smaller front on the offensive line, with the loss of several key seniors including East-West All Star Shayron Jones.
“Our kids are not as big, they’re not as tall really,” coach Trey Sasser said. “They’ve got some size and the strength is okay. They’re just young and just don’t have a full grasp of what we’re doing.”
That isn’t enough to concern Sasser though, as he feels their offense isn’t going to rely on having massive bodies up front.
“We’re kind of a read-option offense, so we’re not dependent on just crushing people at the point of attack,” he said. “We want to be physical in our schemes, but we’re trying to get angles and read different people on the defense. You know, mix up who we read and try to get some advantage that way.”
The Bulldogs were one of the teams that performed above expectations last season, going 8-4 and finishing third in the Three Rivers Conference. Sasser said a physical mentality is one of the reasons they were able to perform at that level.
“We became tough through working out and and the way we practiced,” he said. “We practiced with a mentality that we didn’t want to be pushed around and we wanted to compete and we wanted people to take us seriously.”
His players this year are taking that same approach, and are even wanting to one up it this season.
“We have to be more physical than we were last year to start off,” Said senior linebacker Jacob Lowder. “We have to be a disciplined team and get after the ball on defense and on offense we need to run a fast offense, faster than we were last year and have less turnovers.”
Sasser said that is the idea that has to be prevelant if they are going to reach their ultimate goal.
“We don’t hide it. We say every year that our goal is to be conference champion,” he said. “We came up short last year, but every year our goal is to be the conference champion and then eventually the state champion.”
The first thing the Bulldogs will have to do is prepare for the Three Rivers Conference, which is always one of the toughest in the state.
“If you’re playing Whiteville or South Columbus, if you’re not as physical as they are, you’re going to lose,” Sasser said. “If you are, then you can hang around with them until the end like we did last year.
“We have to play mistake free football. We can’t give up plays on missed assignments and we have to play tough.”
Sasser said they also are a tough team to prepare for because they have the weapons to be multidimensional.
“We’re able to throw it and we want to throw it,” Sasser said. “We just don’t want it to be the main thing that we do. We want to run first to set the pass up.”
The team also brings some sizable receivers to the table who can run routes as well as block up field.
“We are going to throw it,” senior receiver Timothy Billinger said, “but we still have to get off the ball. We still have to block.”
Senior Trey Johnson summed it up, saying if the team works as a unit, they will be tough to stop.
“We want an uptempo offense and everything to go smooth with everybody knowing what they are doing,” he said. “We are also keeping it fast on defense and bringing some toughness.”
St. Pauls Bulldogs
Coach: Trey Sasser
Last year: 8-4 (5-2), lost in first round
Projected finish: 8-3
Outlook: The Bulldogs are losing a lot of size on the offensive line, but their read option attack isn’t as reliant on size as other run attacks are. They do have a defense that attacks the football, and have several athletic players that are going to be factors on both sides of the ball. “We practiced with a mentality that we didn’t want to be pushed around and we wanted to compete and we wanted people to take us seriously,” Sasser said.
Aug. 22 vs. Gray’s Creek
Aug. 29 @ South Brunswick
Sept. 5 @ Southern Lee
Sept. 12 vs. West Bladen
Sept. 19 Bye
Sept. 26 vs. Fairmont
Oct. 3 @ Whiteville
Oct. 10 @ West Columbus
Oct. 17 vs. South Robeson
Oct. 24 vs. South Columbus
Oct. 31 vs. East Columbus
Nov. 7 @ Red Springs