For Nash Central, 2013 is about one thing: finishing.
After last season, it has to be. Nash Central finished 3-7 and missed the playoffs in 2012, but the difference between 3-7 and 7-3 was 16 points. The difference between fifth place in the Big East – where the Bulldogs did finish – and second place – where they easily could have finished – was 11 points.
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“Our intensity as a football team is normally pretty high, but we have to carry it through the whole game, not just three quarters,” Nash Central senior center Hollis Harris said. “Last year, we only had it for three quarters too much.”
A would-have-been tying touchdown on Nash Central’s final possession against Rocky Mount High was dropped by a wide-open receiver in the end zone.
The Bulldogs couldn’t come up with a key play against Hertford County or Wilson Fike.
Nash Central didn’t make the big stop it needed against Southern Nash.
Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said the team developed bad practice habits last season, and despite the coaching staff begging the team to recognize the importance of good Mondays through Thursday, frustrating fourth quarters happened for a reason.
“It taught them the importance of practicing and practicing right,” Crudup said. “Last year, sometimes we didn’t go full speed in practice, and us coaches were really hard on them about not going full speed. When they came out to the game, they tried to go full speed. What happened was the timing was off, the mesh was off, people were getting frustrated.”
The Bulldogs believe the appropriate measures have been taken to correct that issue.
The problem this year will be inexperience. More than 50 seniors graduated during the past two seasons, including more than half of last season’s roster.
As a result, Nash Central will rely on a big group of sophomores. Crudup said as many as 13 sophomores could be on the varsity roster. There were two last season.
Nash Central does have structure, however. Senior defensive lineman Chris Alston is among the area’s elite, while junior Tyler Barrow steps in at quarterback for senior Khalil Macklin, who was moved back to running back, where he played as a sophomore.
“It makes the offense more balanced this year because T.B. is more of a throwing quarterback than I was,” Macklin said. “I’m a runner, so it really balances out, and we have good receivers.”
The offense stalled last season because it struggled to attain any passing success, and Crudup said the team couldn’t stand another one-dimensional year.
Crudup acknowledged the young class must grow up quickly for Nash Central to challenge for the playoffs, but a more balanced offense could be the answer to taking winnable games this season.
“Last year, once everybody figured out we weren’t good at passing, they said, ‘Well, you ain’t gonna run, so we dare you to pass,’” Crudup said. “For us, it was like, we can’t go through another season like that. We have to be able to pass.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz @rmtelegram.com