First Posted: 1/15/2009
Gone is Red Devil linemen Nick Locklear, Steven Van Pelt, Rashad McEachern, Joshua and Joseph Chavis, Ricky McNeill, Bernard Murray, Marshall McDonald and Ramon Campbell. Gone are Red Springs’ backs Rasheem McEachern, Justin Paul, William Jackson and Tyreake Cobb.
Returning for the 2007 football season are running back Ravell McEachern, quarterback Sameer Jackson, defensive back Gibson Hocker and some 30 other student athletes that look to make up the 2007 edition of the Red Springs High School Red Devils football team.
Second year Red Devils Head Football Coach Clay Jernigan will be relying on his returning lettermen to lead the football team this season with hopes of greatly improving on the dismal 3-8 season the Red Devils suffered in 2006. Red Springs finished tied for last place with West Columbus in the Southeastern 1A/2A Conference with identical 1-5 records.
After a week and half of practice, Coach Jernigan and his staff will get a look at what the Red Devils will have to offer this season as they take part in the Fourth Annual Cumberland County Short Stop Football Jamboree tomorrow night at Pine Forest High School in Fayetteville. Red Springs look to tangle with the Falcons of Seventy-First High School in a 45 minute controlled scrimmage. The Red Devils will then on Saturday, take part in a four-team scrimmage at the Devil’s Pit beginning at 10 a.m.
“My dad coached football for over 30 years and I’ve been around it all that time and I’ve learned you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got,” said Coach Jernigan of his numbers on the team. “You can’t worry about who doesn’t show up or who’s not there. It’s like playing card, you’ve got to play with the hand you are delt and it’s the same way with the kids that come out that want to play and go from there in making them better.”
Coach Jernigan said there hasn’t been a junior varsity team at the high school of the last three years, but he feels that one of his team strengths is that his players are willingness to learn.
“Our strength right now is the kids are willing to learn and work hard,” he said from the Red Devils field house. “Talent wise, I’ve coached teams that have had a lot more talent, but right now, our strength is heart and hard work. The kids are eager to learn and I can see them improving every day. That’s all you ask for as a coach. Wins and losses will take care of themselves, but to see them working hard and trying to improved every day is what you want to see as a coach.”
As he insinuated earlier, numbers of players on the team, is the biggest weakness the Red Devils have so far this new season. There may again not be enough for a junior varsity team and many of the new players will be dressing in a varsity Red Devils uniform for the first time, other than playing at the middle school level.
Returning to the Red Devils lineup are seniors McEachern, Jackson and Gibson, along with juniors Damarr McNeill and Kyle Graham. Gone are most of the lineman from the team a season ago. Special teams look to be well-equiped with new kicker Angel Suazo.
Promising newcomers include James Gordon, Josh Jones, Nick Ferguson, Kenwood Locklear, Brad Lamb and Alex Hardin.
As for the new season and play in the Southeastern 1A/2A Conference, Jernigan remains positive.
“If I could tell you how the season will turn out, I’d be a rich man right now,” said Jernigan. “All I can say is that I’m optimistic about the season. Our kids are going out and working hard and they’re just going to see what happens. St. Pauls is going to be good. East Bladen is going to be good. South Robeson has a new coach and they are going to be good. Fairmont is going to be good. West Bladen has a new coach. We’ve just got to bring our