Roger Holmes could see his team had enough.
So had he.
The Dublin head coach told them before the season that he was tired of talking about 2012.
Well, the discussion about Dublin football now longer revolves around the Irish’s disappointing 2012 season.
The Irish are off to a modest 2-2 start, but those wins have come against larger classification opponents in West Laurens and Swainsboro. The losses came at the start of the season to Dodge County and Pierce County – which is undefeated and ranked in Class AAA – without a full complement of offensive weapons.
“Our kids didn’t know how handle things and respond last year because of their inexperience,” Holmes said. “Neither did the coaches.”
The Irish went 2-8 in 2012, giving up a school record 61 points in a loss to Dodge County. They allowed 46 points to both West Laurens and East Laurens, which beat Dublin for the first time. The resident bully in Laurens County became the bullied.
“We had some injuries and guys had to play without experience,” Holmes said. “They got beat down, and I think that was a motivating factor, not just that we got beat, but how we got beat.”
Holmes could see a different team in the summer, and he thought his Irish could make a playoff return this year. They’ve weathered the toughest part of the schedule – a scrimmage against Washington County and four straight against teams from larger classifications.
They also navigated through the absence of quarterback Marcus Brown, who alternates at the position with Robert Strickland. Brown had a pair of touchdowns against West Laurens and provides a big-play threat.
“We feel like we’ve got a solid football team,” Holmes said. “Friday night is a huge test in determining if we’re a playoff team.”
The schedule could work to Dublin’s advantage if the Irish keep improving, but Friday’s home game against Westside-Augusta (3-1) should be a nice test. The Patriots are off to a 3-1 start – albeit against teams with a combined 2-8 record – and could represent one of the stiffest challenges in region play alongside Laney and Screven County.
The Irish follow Westside with games against East Laurens and Josey – both are winless – and close with Harlem, Laney and Screven County.
“We just want to get better, improve,” Holmes said. “Our attitude is so much better this year, and our work ethic is better.”