The 2011 season for Southside High was long on disappointments, but second-year coach Julius Prince is hoping to change the most bitter of them in 2012.
“We still have a lot of youth, but we want to keep building our program and become competitive with the teams in our region,” Prince said. “Last year a lot of the time, we just didn’t compete.”
The Tigers finished 1-9 a year ago, scoring just 80 points and being shut out five times.
Prince said an experienced offensive line coached by volunteer assistant Anthony Redmon, a former Auburn University guard who went on to play seven seasons in the National Football League including with the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, could help lead a resurgent offense.
“We’re blocking, and if you’re blocking, you’ve got a chance with your offense,” Prince said.
Junior center Andrew Williams and junior guard Dashonn McCrary are the leaders along an offensive front that also includes John Little and 300-pounder Blake McKinney.
Prince also expects to make a change at quarterback, moving Pat Oglesby, last year’s starter, to receiver.
Freshman Jawun Prince, the coach’s son, will take over at quarterback.
“My biggest problem is that he’s 14 — that’s also his mom’s biggest problem,” Prince said of his new quarterback. “But he’s been with me at practices all his life.
“He knows what to do and knows what I want.”
Sophomores Lutrell Dallas, Devin Parks and Gabriel Young are expected to contribute at running back, while Parks and Young also figure to play at defensive back.
Former Berea High and University of South Carolina standout Jermale Kelly, another volunteer assistant, has worked to improve the Tigers’ receiving corps, Prince said, adding that Oglesby had established himself during 7-on-7 contests this summer.
Cam Wrice, Shawn Chandler and Courtland Dogan also will be counted on at receiver along with Tyrique Palmer in the offense’s “H-back” position.
Junior Shaquan Young will be one of the defensive ends, and junior Tyler Gilliam will anchor the interior defensive line along with Little, an All-Peach Blossom AAA Region performer last season.
Senior Austin Harris was an all-region linebacker a year ago and returns along with freshman Deaundre Goldsmith and freshman Jeremiah Ferguson.
In the secondary, Parks and Young are in the mix along with Palmer, Shaun Goldsmith, Curtis Kirksey and transfer Rashad Griffith.
“We have a lot of youth, and that makes it tough to build the program because we’re taking away from the B team and C team,” Prince said.
With changes to the region, Southside has added Greer, Blue Ridge and Pickens to the schedule.
That should create some excitement around the Tigers’ program, Pince said.
“We’ll play a lot of games with county schools, and they will mean something,” Prince said.
Prince said perennial playoff contender Greer may be the team to beat in the new region.
“After Greer, I feel like everybody’s got a chance and that’s what we want,” Prince said. “We want to come out and compete and give ourselves a chance at a playoff spot.”