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Looking ahead to the future
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Bryan County just capped off the most successful season in school history. One which will be difficult to replicate.

Among the highlights include, of course, the trip to the Class A-D1 state playoff semifinals, the school’s first ever playoff wins, first region championship, first ever back-to-back winning seasons, most wins in a season.

The biggest individual accomplishment was Austin Clemons setting a school record for rushing with more than 1,700 yards bettering Nick Scott’s mark of 1,595 in 2013 when he scored 23 touchdowns, one more than Clemons had this season.

Coach Cherard Freeman will lose Clemons, defensive back Tanner Ennis who also had his moments offensively as a wide receiver and running back, quarterback Sean Kelly Hill who excelled as a cornerback, running backs Jacari Carney and Erin Greene, defensive back Julian Gray and a group of two-way linemen that included Jett Lewis, Jon Good, Luke Holcombe, Raul Parrish, Carlin Covington and Kris Martin among others.

The cupboard, however, will not be bare when it comes to next year, Freeman said, when the expectations will remain the same: compete for a region championship, host and win a playoff game among other things.

“The process is in place to win on a consistent basis,” Freeman said. “We’ve got some good athletes coming back. We’re going to have to put in some work but these younger kids have seen what can happen when you buy in and do what your coaches ask you to do.

“It’ll be nice to win back-to-back region championships. That’s the goal.”

Heading the returnees will be quarterback in waiting sophomore Gerbrae’vion Collins who will be a strong running threat, running backs Anddreas McKinny and Gage Davis, defensive end Chris Winfrey who improved by leaps and bounds, linemen Zane Renteria, E’Savian Rivera, Matthew Huff, Nathan Long, Allen Williams, tight end Trevor Lanier and cornerback Elijah Mincey.

Work on meeting those goals starts anew on Monday, Freeman said.

“We gave them a week off,” Freeman said. “Next Monday we’re back in the weight room. We’ve got to get bigger and stronger.”

And, the weight room is where it all starts for the Redskins.

Post-game interviews with coaches and players for home games are appropriately enough held in the school’s weight room. That weight room is where the transformation of Bryan County football started four years ago when Freeman was hired.

The first thing Freeman did was place an emphasis on weight training—he now has a program in place in which middle school players are lifting—to get bigger and stronger in order to run his Wing-T offense which is power football plain and simple.

In year three, he said, a stronger and more physical team would be competing for the playoffs and region championships.

That plan, which also included starting up to 16 freshmen four years ago, could not have been better scripted as evidenced by last year’s first winning season since 2013 and a playoff berth followed by this year’s record setting 12-2 season.

“I told the boys when we were going through that winless season and getting waxed by everybody, I told them this day will come,” Freeman said in an interview earlier this year. “We won’t be puppies for long, but we have to grow and get stronger. We have to win in the weight room.

“We have committed ourselves every summer. When you walk into our weight room on one side of the door it says, ‘You can’t win under these lights’ with a picture of a football field. On the other side, it says, ‘Unless you win under these lights,’ and there’s a picture of the weight room.”

The returning Redskins saw what commitment can bring. The expectations have been set.

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