CLINTON – If each season can be a stepping stone to something better, Presbyterian College is ready to move on to the next stone.
“If we’re going to take the next step to being a consistent program, a contender-type program, there are some steps we’ve got to take in a lot of areas,” coach Harold Nichols said. “That’s a good challenge to have, going from being competitive to being relevant.”
The PC alum entering his seventh season as Blue Hose coach cautioned that “we’re a long way from being where we want to be as far as being a championship program.”
A year ago, Presbyterian College placed third in a Big South Conference that was making more of a name for itself nationally. The Blue Hose finished 6-5; three of the losses came to FBS programs.
“We kind of won the old-fashioned way,” Nichols said. “Good defense. We were able to run the football. We didn’t turn the ball over. Good special teams.”
PC won five of its seven games against FCS teams and held those opponents to 15.9 points per game. The defense figures to be a strength again this season as nine starters return, led by preseason All-Big South linebacker Donelle Williams and cornerback Ed Britt.
“(Defensive coordinator) Tommy Spangler is a great coach, a great leader,” Williams said. “We all trust him on defense. That’s why we had so much success last year.”
Another leader is former Berea High star DaRon Dickey, whom Nichols called one of his favorite players. Dickey was fourth on the team with 64 tackles, and he intercepted two passes.
“We’ve got to make some strides offensively,” Nichols said of the unit, which returns only four starters and averaged just 14.8 points per game against FCS teams. “I think we’ve got some people in place in order to be better.”
Nichols said the offensive line should be more athletic, which will help spark both the running and passing game.
Running backs Darrell Bridges and Blake Roberts return after gaining 396 and 376 yards, respectively, a year ago.
At quarterback, Tamyn Garrick and Kaleb Griffin have some experience and are battling redshirt freshman Ben Cheek to be the starter.
“We’ve got to have better quarterback play,” Nichols said. “Those young men understand that. I think they’ll rise to the challenge.”
Former Mauldin star Jordan Hallums is the only returning wide receiver with double digit catches (24) last season.
Punter Stephen Doar and place-kicker Brandon Morrow return.
The Blue Hose have made strides in depth, athleticism and confidence. However, both Williams and Britt think that the team’s camaraderie may be the real key to continued success.
“The brotherhood is probably one of the greatest I’ve ever been around,” Britt said. “That bond that we have is going to carry us farther than what people think.”