Just two seasons ago the Bryan County High School football team went 0-10.
That almost seemed like ancient history on Monday in Pembroke as the team began fall practice in earnest.
"(Expectations) are higher," said third-year coach Mark Wilson, whose team finished 6-4 last fall to record the program’s first winning season since 1991. "We’ve been on the short end of the scoreboard and we’ve been on the winning end. We tell our kids all the time that they know what got us here. They know what they’ve got to do if they don’t want to go back to the way it was."
The message seems to have taken root. Approximately 50 players were out Monday, and they appeared to have a spring in their step as the Redskins went through practice in shorts and helmets.
They’ll start practicing in full pads on Monday after five consecutive days of work in shorts and helmets.
"Our kids have been really good coming out and doing what we needed them to do all summer," Wilson said. "That hasn’t been a problem. This is a good group and they work hard and they work well together."
Experience isn’t a problem either, since nearly all the team’s roster has seen significant playing time since Wilson arrived. Twenty players have played in at least 15 games. Another dozen Redskins have at least 20 games under their belt, which equals to two regular 10-game seasons.
"That’s a lot of experience coming back," Wilson said. "That’s a good thing to have. The coaches have done a pretty good job too."
The team apparently also has bought into the weight room. Wilson estimated a number of returning players have added a whopping 15-20 pounds of body weight. They’re lifting more weight, too.
"Our maxes have gone up at least 50-60 pounds, some of them have even gone up 100," he said. "We’re getting some 300 pound benchers and 300 pound power cleaners and 500 pounds squatters and that’s sort of what you gauge it on. Hopefully by their senior year players are doing that, but we’ve got some juniors doing it now."
The most decorated returner is running back and linebacker Nick Scott, who earned Bryan County News Player of the Year honors for BCHS last season as a sophomore.
Scott, who is 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, earned the U.S. Army Ironman of the Year award for Georgia last fall as well after a season in which he rushed for more than 900 yards and recorded more than 40 tackles. But he’s just one of a number of players who weathered the 2010 season.
But even though several attempts to find the 2011 All-Region 3-A team online were unsuccessful it’s a good bet the 2012 Redskins won’t be able to sneak up on anyone in 2012 – and that’s even though they’re moving up to Class AA’s Region 2-AA.
Bryan County will compete as a member of Subregion B, which also includes Benedictine, Long County, McIntosh county Academy and Metter. Atkinson County, Bacon County, Jeff Davis, Toombs County and Vidalia are in Subregion A.
"Going into that new region, we don’t know all the opponents," Wilson said. "We do know a few of them and we know we’re going to have to pick it up a notch in order to be able to compete. I think we will."
The Redskins scrimmage Savannah Country Day at SCD at 7:30 p.m. April 24.