Razorbacks focus on little things

Being a Cross Creek football player this year means transforming to coach Travis Nixon's rules on and off the field.


Pants on the ground are unacceptable. At school, the Razorbacks wear their shirts tucked into pants that are not allowed to be saggy.

Also, players must sit on one of the first three rows in every class. Then, there's the mandatory study hall in between the time school ends (2:30 p.m.) and practice begins (4:30).

"It's more than us being leaders on the football team," senior linebacker Kyle Poe said. "It's more about being role models and mentors off the field."

Being a Cross Creek football player is different now than in years past thanks to the ascension of Nixon, last year's defensive coordinator who has held myriad positions since joining the Razorbacks in 1999 -- the school's first year of football.

Cross Creek did not lose many players from last season. So when Nixon was hired to be head coach in April, he brought in a change which begins with character. He wants his players to respect adults and to focus on making good grades.

The 43-year-old Nixon, a father of five, even stresses good hygiene to his team. Players take mandatory showers after every practice in an effort to keep a cleaner locker room.

"It's about doing the little things right," he said.

Senior defensive end JaQuez Mack likes what he's seen from Nixon.

"He's improved so many little things," Mack said. "Just little things like us having pride in the team."

Cross Creek is looking to restore pride on the gridiron as well. The Razorbacks suffered their second consecutive losing season in 2009.

"Last year before games, we were goofing off," senior right guard Robert Greene said. "Now, we're going to sit down and look at film."

Cross Creek will try to overpower opponents with its running game. Three senior linemen (Greene, Devon Meadows and Andrew Buckner) will help open holes for 6-foot-1, 220-pound running back Tarrell Wood, who was off to a fast start last year before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth game.

"Everyone knows we have Tarrell," Nixon said. "We're going to run the ball with him. It's no secret."

On defense, the Razorbacks sport nine returning starters, including Mack, Poe and Wood at defensive back.

Cross Creek Razorbacks

COACH: Travis Nixon (first season)





STARTERS BACK: Six offense, nine defense

KEY RETURNERS: LB/FB Kyle Poe (Sr., 5-9, 225), DB Bryan Hayes (Sr., 5-10, 185), RB/DB Tarrell Wood (Sr., 6-1, 220), DE JaQuez Mack (Sr., 6-0, 210), SS Norman Scurry (Jr., 6-0, 190)

KEY GAMES: at Grovetown, Sept. 17, Burke County, Oct. 15; at Hephzibah, Oct. 22; Washington County, Oct. 29

GLASS HALF FULL: Cross Creek's returners have bought into Nixon and are determined to post their first winning season in three years. Wood is expected to be one of the area's top running backs, and he'll shoulder the load on offense.

GLASS HALF EMPTY: The Razorbacks will have to shore up a defense that struggled against good teams last season. Cross Creek faces several high-powered offenses in the region.



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