Randolph-Clay head coach Daniel McFather
CUTHBERT -- wo star-studded running backs that combined for nearly 2,500 yards last season for Randolph-Clay.
Gone are 22 seniors and the majority of last year's starters.
All that remains for the Red Devils are a handful of returning starters, a host of underclassmen and a never-give-up attitude.
"Even though we lost a whole bunch of seniors and a whole bunch of leadership last year, it's no difference. Our goal is a championship," Red Devil senior James Jackson said.
Randolph-Clay won its first five games last year before struggling through the latter half of its schedule and finishing the season with a 6-4 record. But over half of that team is gone, and Red Devil coach Daniel McFather has the task of leading a team full of inexperienced players into unchartered territory.
"I haven't been in this position for a long time, where everything seems to be new to everybody," McFather said. "You can't take anything for granted (when coaching younger athletes). You need to teach them all the lingo. Then you have to teach them all the technique, and then have to make sure that you get them fired up to play. It's almost like you are a father to them."
McFather truly IS a parent of one of his underclassmen. His son, sophomore Caleb McFather, returns as the team's starting quarterback. He started last year as a freshman and is familiar with the offense -- something Daniel McFather said is crucial in bringing up the younger players.
"(Caleb) is good," senior wide receiver Dominique Burks said. "He can throw the ball well and can get it downfield to us so we can make the big plays."
Caleb McFather has the respect of his receivers, but last year he nearly always handed the ball off to Foster and Curry, who rushed for 1,400 and 1,000 yards, respectively. The Red Devils return very limited experience in the backfield and will count on Don Bolden, Montell Hardwick and Marquavious Paramore to run the ball.
"We are going to have to do what we can to move the ball," Daniel McFather said. "We still will probably be predominantly run, but we will mix it up. Caleb has a decent arm, and we have some pretty decent receivers."
Key receivers will be Burks, a four-year starter, and tight end Rod Williams.
The defense features just three returning starters, including Jackson, a four-year starter both as a linebacker and an offensive lineman. Safety Maderious Brown, who played defensive tackle last season with 50 tackles and one interception, named Jackson as the leader on a defense that "goes hard every play."
"Our strength on defense is going to be our linebackers and our defensive line," Jackson said. "We are going to blitz them all day, and we are going to take their heads off. Head hunters all day."
The confidence is there, but Daniel McFather said his young players have a lot of growing up to do. Once his team learns the fundamentals, McFather has confidence that the Red Devils could put together some wins at the end of the season and squeak into the Class A playoffs.
"We have some athletes to work with, but right now we have to coach them up," Daniel McFather said. "You can have a raw athlete, but if they don't do their position and take care of their techniques and do the things we ask them to do, it can be chaotic. I think if we stay away from injuries and progress like I think we can, I think we will be OK at the end of the year."
Randolph-Clay's 2011 season outlook
MASCOT: Red Devils.
HEAD COACH: Daniel McFather (3rd season at Randolph-Clay).
2010 RECORD: 6-4.
ASSISTANT COACHES: Erik Thomas (offensive/defensive line), Jaymes Harlan (offensive/defensive line), Dennis Smith (wide receivers/defensive back).
RETURNING STARTERS: Caleb McFather (So., QB), James Jackson (Sr., OL), Dominique Burks (Sr., DB), Rod Williams (Sr., DE), Maderious Brown (Sr., DB).
2011 Randolph-clay red devils schedule
Thursday at Kendrick, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Baconton Charter, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Albany, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Pelham , 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Stewart County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Terrell County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Mitchell County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 at Miller County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28 vs. Calhoun County, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4 at Seminole County, 7:30 p.m.