Two weeks into fall camp, Nash Central’s Kevin Crudup isn’t talking about last season’s 0-11 record. The sixth-year head coach simply doesn’t have to remind anyone.
The Bulldogs are coming off the worst season in school history and everyone, from the student managers to star defensive end Houshoun Gaines, knows what that means. It’s time to turn things around.
Crudup called last year’s blemish “part of the cycle.” But in the ultra-competitive world of high school football, there is no room for a winless season.
The Bulldogs averaged a mere 6.2 points per game last season and were shut out on four separate occasions. The defense was serviceable, but often times they were left on the field too long.
Crudup said that if the Bulldogs are going to erase last year’s record, it will have to start with the offense.
“Last year, we just took too long, and we just ran out of time,” Crudup said. “We would get into a rhythm and by then, the game would be over. This year we want to speed it up more and put more pressure on the other team’s defense, not ours.”
Gone is the Bulldogs’ mundane attack from last season, and in is an up-tempo system designed to spread the field. Crudup hired long-time friend Jeremy Jones in the offseason to install the new look, and the changes are already noticeable, even in practice.
Senior D’Marko Brown could be the man under center after starting Nash Central’s final game of the season.
He isn’t the typical quarterback at just 5-foot-5, but what Crudup likes about Brown, is his ability to work in-between the tackles and manage the offense.
“The offense looked the best it had looked all season long with [Brown] at quarterback, so we’re going to give him a shot at it again this year,” Crudup said. “We’re still working on the vertical threat, but you know last year when he came in he gave us that spark.”
On defense, the Bulldogs return 10 starters from last year’s squad including Gaines, the top player in the Twin Counties.
The senior holds scholarship offers from Florida, Miami, N.C. State and Virginia Tech and is expected anchor the unit. He’ll make his living as a pass rusher on the edge, but with so many teams keying in on him, he’s expected to line up at multiple positions.
Gaines said redemption is a word that was tossed around in the locker room this summer, and the Bulldogs will have their chance at it. Nash Central plays the same schedule as last season, meaning there will be an opportunity to avenge 2013’s record game-by-game.
“My mindset is, to do whatever it takes to win,” Gaines said. “Last year was a building block. We have the mindset that we’re not going to have a season like that ever again. Everybody beat us, so we’re looking to bring some pain this year.”
Andrew Ivins can be reached at 407-9951 or aivins @rmtelegram.com