Coaches and players with the Southwest football program have a phrase they like to use to talk about what they need to do.
The phrase might not make sense for outsiders. But to those who have bought into the Southwest program, the phrase means everything.
They call it “the process.”
“The process is everything that we do in order to get what we need,” senior wide receiver Teandrae Colson said. “Simple stuff, like keeping your brother up, doing extra work, keeping the team up.”
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For the second straight season, Southwest has opened with a 2-2 record and hopes for a good season.
This season, just like last year, Southwest opened with a close win over rival Northeast, lost by a significant margin to Eagle’s Landing and Peach County, then defeated Jordan before hitting its bye week.
If this were a copy of last season, then there might be cause for concern. Southwest came out of its break last year with a close win over Spencer, then closed the season with five straight losses for a 3-7 finish.
But while the record is the same, the numbers on the scoreboard have been different this season. Southwest is scoring more, the losses were closer, and one of the victories came by a larger margin.
In other words, head coach Joseph Dupree said, there’s improvement.
“We’re excited about the direction of the football team,” said Dupree, the former Westside assistant who is in his third year as the Patriots’ head coach. “We’re 2-2, trying to get better each week. The boys are excited.”
Southwest is averaging 28.0 points per game and has scored in double figures in all four of its games. That’s an improvement of almost 17 points per contest, and it’s the highest average through four games since Carror Wright’s 2008 Southwest team that went 8-3 and hosted a first-round game in the GHSA Class AA playoffs.
Last year’s team only reached the 28-point mark twice.
“We have a bunch more playmakers this year, guys that are stepping up, just creating opportunities for the team,” Dupree said. “We have the opportunity to take advantage of it. The leaders are stepping up and leading the guys on the field and off. We’re just excited about the direction of the program.”
The playmakers are a mix of veterans and young players, working to get things to click.
Freshman Jordan Slocum became Southwest’s starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, and things appear to be clicking for him. He accounted for 275 all-purpose yards (210 passing, 65 rushing) and four touchdowns in Thursday’s 42-27 win over Jordan, and he passed for 181 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-12 loss at Peach County in which the Patriots kept things close into the second half.
The player Slocum replaced at quarterback, his brother Justin Slocum, is now being used at multiple positions. He caught three touchdown passes against Jordan, and he is helping give leadership to the team.
Also making key contributions is Jeremiah Daniels, a senior running back.
“We have great leaders on the football team,” Dupree said. “The last few years, we didn’t have great leaders, but this year we have great leaders leading our boys. Those guys have taken the team on their back, and they’re trying to make plays for us.”