Mickey Derrick let out a big laugh when asked why he decided to have a team camp this season after forgoing camp last year.
The Greenbrier football team works out in the weight room to get ready for the new season. Expectations on campus are high this season with the Wolfpack returning 20 seniors, more than any other team in the county.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Going 3-7 will make you change the way you look at things," the Greenbrier coach said with a chuckle. "I'm not saying we had the year we had because we didn't have camp, but we're going to get in as much practice as possible this year."
The Wolfpack stumbled to a 0-4 start last season before beating Lakeside, 35-28, and were just one win from making the playoffs. Many fans thought about what could've been had quarterback Sean Gray and receiver Eugene Rogers not missed some or all of the first three games.
"It was tough to swallow, because we thought we had a strong team," said Gray. "I still think we did, we just ran into some bad luck. But you can't make excuses."
Expectations around campus are high again this year with Greenbrier returning 20 seniors, which is more than any other team in the county. Greenbrier also returns its quarterback and its top running back, Reggie Rice. It is the only one of the county's Region 2-AAAA schools to return starters in both positions.
"We like our skill position players," said Derrick. "Sean should be ready to have a good season, and we think Reggie will be able to do a lot for us."
Greenbrier football players practice pass receptions during the last week before school started. The Wolfpack is the only Region 2-AAAA team to return both its quarterback and top running back.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Gray is the county's only pocket passer and will be hurt by Rogers' graduation. He will still have reliable tight end Cal Morris and senior Matt King.
"I guess you could say people don't think we have a play-maker like Eugene," said Gray. "But Cal will be big for us. I have a great relationship with Matt. We will be fine."
Wolfpack fans got a taste of what Rice is capable of during last year's Lakeside game. The senior scored three touchdowns and ran for more than 100 yards as Greenbrier overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to win.
Because of his importance as a linebacker, Rice will receive relief at tailback from a number of players.
Fullback Erik Smith will receive carries between the tackles and Charlie Kupar will start at wingback. The biggest help, though, could come from Lashawn Butler. Butler sat out last season to concentrate on basketball after playing cornerback as a sophomore. He is a state-qualified sprinter who will add a speed element to the backfield.
Guard Jay Adkins will lead the offensive line that graduated behemoths Tanner Hayden and Josh Adams.
"Our line will focus more on being quick than big," said Gray.
The defense starts with Rice and Smith, arguably the best linebacking duo in recent county history.
Smith is the more powerful of the two, while Rice uses his speed to make plays sideline-to-sideline.
"Those are two guys we never have to worry about," said Derrick. "They always do what they need to do."
Kupar will anchor the secondary and is a three-year starter. The 'Pack doesn't return any starters on the defensive line.
"The line of scrimmage is our biggest concern," said Derrick. "We have to have guys step up to be successful."
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