A mediocre 2006 season left a bad taste in Harlem football coach Jimmie Lewis' mouth.
"I thought we should have done better than we did last year. I thought we should have won a few more games," he said.
Harlem's 4-6 record came from what some would consider an underachieving group of Bulldogs last year, but Lewis won't have to worry about last year's team repeating that effort in 2007. Last year's team is almost completely gone.
"We lost more seniors from last year than I can ever remember. We lost 18 seniors," Lewis said. "This year it's sort of like starting over. We're so young, and we have so few returners."
Such a cleansing of the program prompted an active and competitive preseason with competition at several starting spots, including quarterback. Only four starters return on offense and defense.
"Depth's going to be a problem," Lewis said. "I would say eight or nine out of 11 (starters) are going to be playing both ways and a lot of them are going to be on special teams, too. That's tough."
Rebuilding the Bulldog football program started in the offseason with the quarterback competition. Last year's starter, Brendan Gray, graduated and at least three candidates competed for the job over the summer and in preseason practices. Lewis said senior Carlos Beard, known for his arm in centerfield for the Harlem baseball team, will start behind center for the football team to begin the season.
"Carlos Beard's looking real good in practice. He's got real good speed," Lewis said. "Playing the triple option isn't something you pick up overnight. We're going to have to help him out a little bit, but he throws the ball well. I think passing-wise we're going to be better than we were last year."
What little experience Harlem does have returning will start behind the defensive line. Linebackers Mike Leverett and Trey Crain will lead a defense that, Lewis said, will be crucial to the team's success.
"We're going to have to be strong on defense if we're going to have a prayer because we're not going to outscore anybody," Lewis said. "We're going to have to hold people down. That's why we're going to have to rest people on offense if we're going to rest them. We can't afford to rest them on defense."
Aug. 31 vs. Evans
Sept. 7 vs. Lincoln Co.
Sept. 14 at Aquinas
Sept. 21 bye week
Sept. 28 at Liberty Co.
Oct. 5 vs. Burke County
Oct. 12 at Glenn Hills
Oct. 19 vs. Wash. Co.
Oct. 26 at Thomson
Nov. 2 at Butler
Nov. 9 vs. Cross Creek
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