NEWBERRY — Newberry County’s football coaches came together Monday for the first gathering of the Newberry County Touchdown Club..
Charlie Jenkins, Whitmire High School’s coach, told the group they had about 30 kids on the team this year, which he felt was a substantial number from a school with about 130 students.
Jenkins said the number of students willing to play is a credit to former coach Donald Addis. There are four seniors on the team this year.
“With having lost 44 games in a row, it’s tough to keep them coming out,” said Jenkins, who is originally from Union.
Jenkins said the weightroom was made more mandatory this summer.
“Twenty-one of them did what they were supposed to,” Jenkins said.
Those 21 players — known as the TCB (Taking Care of Business) Crew — recognized by stickers on their helmets.
Whitmire starts its season Friday against Calhoun Falls. Jenkins said they watched the team last week.
“It’s scary for us because we’re not real fast,” he said.
The team will play both Wagener-Sally and North at home this year. Both teams are similar in size to Whitmire and Jenkins thinks they will have a good chance at winning against them.
Coach Louie Alexander with Mid-Carolina High School said his team had a good off season. He said they are back bigger and stronger after battling some adversity last year.
“We’re trying to do offensively what we didn’t do all last year and that’s have an identity,” Alexander said.
The Rebels have five starters returning, Alexander said, and a few outside linebackers who have been there a couple of years.
This Friday, the Rebels play Chapin High School, one of their biggest rivalries of the year.
Phil Strickland, coach of the NHS Bulldogs, said the team had a productive off-season.
“The kids really worked hard in the weightroom,” he said. “I look forward to this season. I feel we’re competitive defensively.”
Strickland said the team is getting bigger and stronger, but had their work cut out for them on Friday when they play Union County High School. The Bulldogs have six returning starters this year.
Head Coach Todd Knight with the Newberry College Wolves was the Touchdown Club’s main speaker. Knight is in his sixth season as the program’s head coach.
Knight has coached 38 All-South Atlantic Conference players and one SAC player of the year. His players have earned 14 All-State awards, 27 All-Region honors and 13 All-American awards.
Three former players under Knight are currently on NFL squads — cornerback Ron Parker with the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end Brandon Bostick with the Green Bay Packers, and wide receiver Corey Washington with the New York Giants.
Knight told the group that 166 players were brought in for camp and 15 to 20 more joined when the school year began. Practicing conditions have been drastically different, Knight said. Last year they dealt with heavy rains and this year they are dealing with turf temperatures of 110 F.
The team held its first scrimmage on Setzler Field last Saturday and the highlight was the watermelon brought to the team by the NCTDC members. Knight said he was discouraged from the scrimmage, but saw some bright spots when reviewing the film.
The Wolves will scrimmage at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday at Setzler Field.
The team’s theme last season was “Win Now,” which team member Edmond Robinson said he saw in a dream. This year, Knight said the Wolves want to “Dream Big” and see what happens for them.
Starting quarterback W.T. Murden has struggled on the field and in the classroom, but Knight said Murden is great for the team.
“He’s a top-shelf winner and is leading the program,” Knight said.
The NCTDC will hold its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22. The guest speaker will be Coach Shell Dula, whose career spanned four decades and 32 seasons as a head coach with stops in Ninety Six, Union County and Greenwood. Dula is now the director of the S.C. Athletic Coaches Association.