School: Sullivan North
Nickname: Golden Raiders
Coach: Robbie Norris
2006 record: 4-6, 2-5
Offensive starters back: 2
Defensive starters back: 0
KINGSPORT — The cupboard at North is almost bare but it hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the players or coaches.
Only two starters from last year’s team return, both on offense — center Matt Summey and left guard Isaac Moore.
North no longer has a feeder system, which makes it interesting how the Golden Raiders plan to compete. In 2006, they won four games and made several other opponents sweat it out.
“We played extremely hard most of the time,” coach Robbie Norris said. “For eight games, we played well. A lack of depth got to us late in the year.”
Norris wants to win but it isn’t the end of the world when the Raiders fail to do so.
“We don’t stress winning that much, but we do want to compete,” he said. “Our goal is always to get better. The kids are out here to have fun — that’s the way it should be.”
There is no absence of pride. All members of the coaching staff except one are from the North community.
“We’re going to rebuild,” Norris said. “The numbers here aren’t bad. We have 50 players out. It’s fun to come to work. The team’s character and chemistry are really good.
“With a lot of effort and intelligence, a team can compete with anybody. We can be just as good as we want to be. In our situation, we don’t have any problem getting games, though. Alcoa even called.”
Dustin Doran, one of the school’s top basketball players, will be the quarterback. He was hurt last season and played sparingly.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior “throws well, has composure and reads the option well,” Norris said.
Senior Tyler Breeding (5-10, 170), a middle linebacker/wingback, has been the talk of preseason drills.
“Tyler is like Andy King was last year,” Norris said. “He’s made himself into a player and a leader. Summey also is a good leader.”
Norris feels Moore has the potential to play college ball. “He has good feet, is very strong and can bench-press 305 pounds,’’ the coach said.
North still will attack from a double-wing formation but with less power and more options since the players are smaller.
Carl McGathey will line up at fullback, flanked by wingbacks Breeding and Brandon Rogan.
Jeff Clawson will be at split end and Kory Morgan at tight end, with tackles Matt Rhoten and Jacob Perkins, guards Moore and Corbin Calhoun and Summey forming the offensive interior.
The team has exceptional speed in McGathey, Eric Pearcy and Doran.
“We’ll try to control the ball and limit our mistakes,” Norris said. “We’ll run some options and get some splits in the line.”
North’s entire defensive lineup is new. Brandon Black and Jacob Hartsoe will be at the ends, Cody Blakely at nose guard, Pearcy and Brad Baker at outside linebacker, McGathey and Breeding at inside linebacker, Clawson and Calhoun at cornerback and Rogan and Cody Martin as the twin safeties.
North’s coordinators are Jeremy Harris on offense and Mike Copas on defense. Both are former North players.