That’s the number of players Presbyterian Christian’s football team lost to graduation between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
And yet Joey Hawkins’ Bobcats have quite a bit going for them heading into their 2015 campaign, including several skill players who will help PCS continue to play their run-heavy brand of football.
“We’ve got some experienced skill people — some good running backs, and our quarterback (junior Luke Hudson) is back,” Hawkins said. “(Junior running back) Isaiah Woullard rushed for 1,400 yards last year as a sophomore, and (senior running back) Destin Payton is really coming on. So we think we’ve got two guys who are really tough in our tailback positions.”
Hawkins admits his offensive line is something of a question mark. In addition to lacking the big, look-the-part linemen that some of their competition boasts, the Bobcats are replacing four offensive linemen. PCS also will have a lot of voids to fill on its defensive front.
“We have a lot of holes to fill, and we’ve got a lot of guys who have been role players who now have to be starters,” he said.
Despite the gaps left by a large group of departing seniors, Hawkins feels confident in his players, who have impressed him with their team chemistry and work ethic since the end of the 2014 season.
That hard work will be critical when the Bobcats face the stiff competition they encounter from their rivals in the Jackson area.
“Our kids have done a great job in the spring, and then they came in this summer and did a great job in workouts,” Hawkins said. “When you’re playing teams that have 30, 40 more kids than you — (Jackson) Prep, (Jackson Academy) and (Madison-Ridgeland Academy) — you’ve gotta get stronger, bigger and faster in a hurry, then you’ve gotta use great technique, then build enough depth for a 48-minute game.”
All in all, Hawkins expects his players to deliver another competitive season.
“We’re proud of our program,” he said. “It’s my seventh year here, and we’ve gotten better every year. Our kids put a lot into this, and we’re just going to take one practice at a time, try to get better every day and let the wins take care of themselves.”
•Coach: Joey Hawkins
•Record: 48-25 (7th season)
•Last season: 9-4, 1-1 (eliminated in first round of playoffs)
•State championships: None
•Assistant coaches: Ronnie Eaves, Billy Carter, Tom Ferrill, Phil Smith
•Shoes to fill: RB Fate Eiland, LB Seth Holloway
•Players to watch: DE/TE Daniel King, K Luke Logan, CB/RB Destin Payton, RB Isaiah Woullard
•The skinny: The Bobcats lost 17 seniors to graduation in the spring, leaving significant gaps to fill on the offensive and defensive fronts. But with a number of talented skill players returning, PCS has the pieces it needs for another competitive season.