Central head coach Jesse Hicks is hoping the third time is the charm for his Chargers.
Entering his third season at Central after eight seasons at Baldwin and two at Dougherty, Hicks thinks a strong start in 2014 is a necessity.
“Wins early in the the season will weigh heavily on how our season goes,” said Hicks, whose team is 3-17 in his first two seasons. “Our players have to start enjoying the fruits of their labor. I think the wins are starting to come.”
Hicks has 16 returning starters, eight each on offense and defense. More players have turned out for the team in each of Hicks’ seasons,
As players began hitting in full uniform for the first time Aug. 1, they were enthusiastic and energetic as Hicks’ booming voice dominated the Central practice field.
The players seem to appreciate the direction the program has taken despite the lack of victories.
“Coach Hicks came in and changed things around,” senior Quint Nash said. “He also brought in coaches who care about us as people, on and off the field. It’s helped to open me up a lot.”
Nash, a 230-pound defensive end who can bench press 325 pounds and wants to be a physical trainer, is quite physical on the field.
“I like to get a lot of contact,” Nash said. I like to get aggressive on the quarterback.”
At 275 pounds, Rashad Burney, is a returning all-region senior who anchors both the offensive and defensive lines.
Bobby Cummings, who leads the defensive backfield and is also a standout at wide receiver, agrees with Nash concerning Coach Hicks.
“He pushes us, makes us want to grind hard,” Cummings said. “Everybody wants to play.”
Cummings is a key player for the Chargers.
“He’s Mr. Everything; we’ve got to get him eight to 10 touches a game,” Hicks said.
Another wide receiver standout is Chris Sparks, a rangy, 6-foot-4, 185-pounder who Hicks says “can go up and get the ball.”
Along with Cummings, the Chargers will need a spark from Sparks, especially since all-region junior receiver Ivory Childers is expected to miss the early part of the season with an injury.
Running the offense, which will include some spread option plays, will be first-time starting quarterback Derrick Evans, a junior who saw time as the backup last season.
“We’ve got a plethora of guys who’ll need to step up,” Hicks said. “When you’re a competitor and you’re working hard, football brings us together in spirit and social aspects and other essentials for a successful life.”
CENTRAL IN 2014
Head coach: Jesse Hicks (76-58 in 13 seasons overall; 3-17 in two seasons at Central).
2013 record: 1-9.
2014 region: GHSA 2-AAA.
Returning starters: 8 on offense; 8 on defense.
Players to watch: Bobby Cummings (6-0, 180, Sr., WR/CB); Quint Nash (6-1, 25, Sr., DE/OLB); Rashad Burney (6-2, 275, Sr., OL/DL); Chris Sparks (6-4, 185, Sr., WR); Derrick Evans (6-0, 182, Jr., QB); Ivory Childers (6-1, 170, Jr., WR).
Aug. 29 at Wilkinson County
Sept. 5 vs. Howard
Sept. 12 Jordan
Sept. 19 vs. Westside
Sept. 26 at Spencer
Oct. 3 at Peach County
Oct. 17 vs. Southwest
Oct. 24 at Jackson
Oct. 31 vs. Rutland
Nov. 7 Kendrick