WARNER ROBINS -- Historic, yes. Memorable, not so much.
The 2010 Warner Robins football team went 2-8, suffering its worst season in more than four decades. And it could have been worse. The Demons closed the year with two wins in their final three games. So which does the team carry over -- the seven straight early losses or the strong finish?
“We haven’t harped on either one of them,” head coach Bryan Way said. “We haven’t mentioned last year a whole lot other than to say we’re not going to lose eight ballgames.”
He added that a team’s identify changes from year to year based on intangibles; leadership and camaraderie among them. He has seen signs that the current version exhibits those qualities in abundance.
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“The chemistry is better than I’ve ever had on a team,” senior nose tackle Greg Carswell said. “We love each other. I love you, and I’m going to fight for you ... Nobody is selfish.”
A whopping 34 seniors -- more than any team in Houston County -- see to it that the love gets shared.
“This year’s senior class -- we’re together,” senior quarterback Ty Odom said. “This year we’ve got plenty of team chemistry. We’ve got 22 guys all pulling together.”
The Demons aren’t merely close-knit. They’re talented, too. They played fast and physical while roughing up Crisp County 32-0 during an Aug. 11 scrimmage. That night, Warner Robins and defensive coordinator Paul Carroll unveiled a 3-5 alignment designed to feature a quick cadre of linebackers; among them Moses Allen, Michael Lee and Donkor Taylor.
“It helps us with our speed on defense,” Carswell said. “It’s a better fit for the personnel we have this year.”
And it fits with the no selfishness theme. On the nose, Carswell expects to be double-teamed a lot. But he’s fine with that if one of the ends like Sherkon Wright or Andrew Taylor or a linebacker makes a big play.
It worked against Crisp County as the Demons’ first-team defense recorded three interceptions before intermission. Big plays were missing from the 2010 edition of the program -- in all phases of the game.
“Last year, when we had to make a play -- on either side of the ball or on special teams -- we didn’t,” Way said. “We have to be confident in our abilities.”
While splitting time last year, Odom occasionally showed too much confidence in his own ability. Way said he sometimes tried to force the issue when throwing the ball in the Demons’ spread attack. Six of his 83 pass attempts were intercepted.
“I learned a lot going through that year,” Odom said. “We made adjustments from what we messed up.”
Odom is also encouraged by the fact that three of his classmates return at receiver: Jalen Rountree; Akeen Taylor and Amir Walker.
“We learned how to communicate,” Odom said. “We talk when they come back to the huddle.”
Seniors Jim Dart and Greg Farms anchor a big offensive line that includes the aptly named guard Daniel Blocker. Another senior, Kyle Griffin, starts at tight end.
Decimated by injury last year, the Demons’ stable of running backs now showcases depth. Brian Sutton returns for his senior year after sitting out a season with a broken neck. Juniors Delvonsha’ “DeDe” Wright and DeAnthony Mack figure to get plenty of carries, as well.
The kicking game should be strong with twin seniors Caleb and Kyle Floyd handling the punting and placekicking duties, respectively.
Warner Robins hasn’t been part of the state playoff picture since 2006. That’s a fact even more damaging to the Demons' pride than last year’s record. The ingredients are on hand to turn those painful realities into distant memories.
“It’s a new season now. We’ve got to do whatever it takes,” Carswell said. “I want to go to the playoffs.”