The philosophy remains the same for the Evans Knights football team in 2009.
W.I.N. is the team's acronym: "What's important now?"
The phrase keeps the Knights focused on the task at hand: to win every play.
"Put every bad play behind you. Put every good play behind you," Evans coach Marty Jackson told his team after its final practice before a scrimmage with Emanuel County Institute last week.
The Knights are content to continue moving forward.
After finishing the 2008 regular season undefeated to win the Region 3-AAAA title, the Knights stumbled at home to open the playoffs, committing more turnovers that game than they had during the entire season.
Jackson said he wished he could have seen how his team responded to a down game. He will have his chance Aug. 28, when the Knights play host to rival Greenbrier to open the season.
"We need to look at what we can do," said senior offensive lineman Wes Ivie, who missed the second half of the 2008 season because of a school disciplinary action. "We need to keep on doing how we do business and throw out what happened last year."
Ivie and the team's other seniors have continued a tradition of past Evans teams, with the seniors making up "The Knights of the Round Table," a group responsible for team-building activities.
The Knights have no shortage of those.
The offensive line met regularly during the summer to eat at Bojangles'. The Thursday before the scrimmage at ECI, the Knights continued a recent tradition of crashing CiCi's buffet. And on game days, Evans will meet at West Acres Baptist Church for its pregame meal and devotional.
"We're basically the leaders of the team," quarterback Troy Griffith said of the Round Table. "We have meetings, eat dinner as a team, making sure people have rides."
The Knights' senior class is not as large as last year's group, but Evans has experience in key spots.
Griffith and running back Jonathan Finch are seniors, as are four of five starting offensive linemen. That core will be key if Finch is to replicate the success of last season, when he rushed for more than 1,600 yards.
One of Mount Zion's ploys during its 36-10 playoff win to end Evans' season in 2008 was to target Finch. The Region 3-AAAA Player of the Year was gang-tackled early and briefly had to leave the field.
As Jackson noted, Finch still finished with more than 100 yards rushing. The coach expects Finch will be the focus of every team this season but said the Knights go deeper than their standout running back.
Griffith said opposing teams would be unwise to key on one Knight. The team lost key playmakers to graduation, but has plenty back. Among them are receivers Tevin Nelson and Justin Black, along with running back and receiver Jamerson Turner.
"We got a lot of other weapons," Griffith said. "It's going to be hard to just stop one person on this team and expect to stop the whole team. We got too many athletes."
2009 Evans High football schedule
Aug. 28 vs. Greenbrier
Sept. 4 at Lakeside
Sept. 18 vs. Harlem
Sept. 25 at Glenn Hills
Oct. 2 vs. Butler
Oct. 9 at Westside
Oct. 16 vs. Josey
Oct. 23 at Hephzibah
Oct. 30 vs. Cross Creek
Nov. 6 at Richmond Academy
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