RED SPRINGS — Following the loss to Hendersonville last year in the second round of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs, the Red Springs football coaching staff has told the team what it takes to be a championship-caliber team.
This week, the Red Devils get a chance to prove if they are up to that level.
“We’ve been preaching it since Hendersonville: character, intensity and integrity,” Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches said. “It’s all the things that championship teams are built on. It’s not just this week, it’s every day. It’s how we try to build the program.”
Red Springs (2-0) opens conference play at home against South Columbus (2-0), who has claimed at least a share of the last three conference championships.
The Stallions defeated Douglas Byrd, 21-14, and Loris, 41-14, to open the season. Last time the teams met, South Columbus won 42-14. Dating back to when South Columbus joined the conference in 2012, the Stallions are 7-0 against the Red Devils, including a first-round playoff game in 2015 that they won in overtime.
This meeting pits two run-dominant teams in the conference against each other. Through the first two games, Red Springs has amassed 713 yards on the ground, with 300 coming from senior running back Jayshawn Carthen.
The Stallions lost quarterback Robby Spencer and three of its top four rushers, but return their 1,800-yard back from a season ago in senior Trequan Bellamy. He will also have junior Rajon Graham in the backfield to complement him this season.
“They’re old school South Columbus,” Ches said. “They are big, strong and ferocious. They’re the same South Columbus every year. Top 10 in the 2A. They’re hard working, the same type of team we are.”
To stop the running game from South Columbus means execution.
“It’s all about playing your responsibility,” Ches said. “We’ve got to line up right and do our jobs.”
The Red Devils are coming off a bye week that Ches said serves them well around the awkward timing of the Labor Day holiday.
“The bye week leading up to the vacation week is crucial so you don’t lose practices,” Ches said. “I was able to give them the vacation, and all the practices.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.