With all of the success in recent years, it doesn’t really matter which players will wear North Augusta’s football jerseys from year to year.
No matter what, wins are predicted.
Yellow Jackets coach Dan Pippin said there are always questions before a season, but he welcomes the high expectations – better that than to have none.
“Before the season, it’s just unknown. We got 14 starters coming back, but I think expectations are little bit lofty for them – they’re high school kids,” Pippin said. “But I’d rather it be that way than the other way. It’s cool. I love it.”
Since the start of the 2009 season, Pippin’s bunch has gone 44-10, including a 9-4 record in 2012 when the Yellow Jackets lost to eventual champion Greenwood by only two points in the second round of the playoffs. The way it’s gone lately, simply making the playoffs isn’t the big goal anymore.
The rest of the season’s goals are familiar: be the best in the county, the region and hope to be practicing deep into November for a playoff run.
During North Augusta’s winning stretch, the offense has always been potent. With junior Trib Reece returning as the quarterback and an offensive line filled with size, the Yellow Jackets will put up big numbers. At running back, North Augusta has to replace DeVonte Pressley, who almost reached 2,000 yards. But Pippin has confidence in a group of runners who will handle the work and keep each other fresh, naming Willie McCloud, Dashawn Barnes, Ronald Williams and Rashad Byrd as rushers.
On defense, Williams will be at linebacker and will work with the defensive line to help a relatively inexperienced secondary early in the season.
But no matter who’s gone or who’s still there, North Augusta will be expected to win, even if the players try to not let the attention get to them.
“We just go at it day-by-day,” defensive lineman Jesse Owusu said. “We don’t worry about that – we just focus on the team. If you do your job, everything will happen like dominoes.”