NORTH AUGUSTA — Zabian Adams remembers watching his older brother play varsity football at Fox Creek four years ago. Thad Adams and his Predators teammates won just two games their senior year in 2008. The season before that the team didn’t win a game at all.
Even at his young age, Zabian Adams had trouble watching.
“They were real ugly sometimes,” he said. “I remember my brother said people would go out there and say they were going to lose before even going onto the field. You can’t have that kind of attitude.”
Those painful years eventually built a foundation that provided for a vastly improved program culminating in back-to-back winning records and state playoff victories in 2010 and 2011. The questions floating around Fox Creek practices these days center around whether the program will continue its recent winning ways or take a step back.
Of the 35 players on last year’s 9-3 team, 17 were lost to graduation. There’s no shortage of new faces this year, and the lack of familiar ones – including college-bound skill players Marty Williams and C.J. Williams – have prompted the uncertainty.
“We only have five seniors this year. We’re pretty junior and freshman loaded,” coach Russ Schneider said. “The junior class has some of the biggest kids we’ve had, so they’ll be a strength for us on the offensive and defensive lines.”
Trey Mock will step into the quarterback role, while Adams will take over as the starting tailback. Schneider said he’s got the talent on the roster, but few have seen the necessary experience on the field.
“We’ve come together at practice, but you can only do so much against your own guys. So it may take us a few games to get clicking,” Schneider said.
The Predators begin their season tonight at home against Class AAA Dreher. Win or lose, the bigger opponent will help Fox Creek gain crucial points that help determine playoff seeding. Schneider said he’ll be looking to see how his team responds to adversity. He’ll also be looking for any reaction at all.
“They’re quiet,” he said. “They go out there and they work and they do everything we ask of them, but they’re just quiet. I don’t know if it’s just because they’re new or that’s just them. Morale is great. I think this is the smartest football group we’ve ever had.”
Adams is smart enough to know his team is being overlooked within the rest of the Region 4-A. That’s fine with him.
“A lot of people are taking us as the underdogs again, and that’s a perfect chance to surprise some people,” he said. “I think if everybody comes out and hits like they’re supposed to and does their job and does their assignment, I think we’re going to be fine.”