NORTH AUGUSTA — The Yellow Jackets continue to churn out quality athletes with loud skills, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But head coach Dan Pippin feels the defense doesn’t get enough respect for matching the offense’s skill level over the past few years.
Over the past four seasons, including playoffs, North Augusta is 44-10. In each of those 10 losses, the Yellow Jackets allowed 28 or more points.
The coaching staff is quick to point out the level of competition North Augusta faced in those losses. In that same period, the Yellow Jackets have lost to two eventual state champions and one state runner-up. Each playoff exit came at the hands of Greenwood or Goose Creek.
“I think a lot with us is, when we have high-scoring games in the playoffs, we’ve been getting beat by state champions,” Pippin said. “I think offensively we’re getting the ball in a bad situation at times. I think our defense doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Last year, we gave up like 13 points a game, and if we continue to do that, we’re going to win a lot of football games.”
The Yellow Jackets had an average point differential of 20 points in their favor, which led to an 8-3 regular-season record.
The three years before that produced a similar point differential with better records, recording just one loss in each regular season between 2009-11. Each season also produced a similar ending, losing in the playoffs in high-scoring games.
“In the playoffs, everyone has great offenses,” North Augusta defensive coordinator Derrick Quinn said. “People are going to score, especially in AAAA, they’re going to score. Our job, very simple, especially playoff time, is give our offense a chance to win. Stop scores, but if we give up scores, we have to react and play better next time. Everybody is going to score. Our job in the playoffs is give our team a chance to win, period.”
The Yellow Jackets are confident their defense will give them a chance for a deep playoff run this season. Seven starters are returning, and Quinn said experience and leadership will be strengths. Pippin says the defense will also have speed and athleticism.
Senior linemen D.J. Young and Brandon Maddox, and senior defensive back Keyon West, are expected to lead a defense that Pippin said is fast and strong.
“They pick up stuff so easy, because most have been in the program since their freshman year,” Quinn said. “What we’ve got to do is work as a team to get better, and don’t be satisfied.”