BROOKLET — Last year saw a big step forward in the rebuilding process for the Southeast Bulloch football squad, but the 2011 spring practices brought about the next step in turning the Yellow Jackets back into yearly contenders.
In his first year at the helm of SEB, Pat Collins was able to put an end to a long and painful 19 game losing streak that had stretched back to the 2008 season.
The Jackets won their first two games last fall, but dropped the last eight, giving Collins and his team plenty of motivation for year two of the revival.
“Obviously, 2-8 isn’t where we want to be,” said Collins. “But last year was a step in the right direction. We saw a group of boys get very committed and work hard all season to improve. That’s the same kind of attitude that we expect this season.”
All X’s and O’s aside, it has been those sorts of intangibles that have shown themselves since Collins’ arrival last spring.
A renewed excitement over the off-field things like improving equipment and having good turnouts for summer workouts had morale building amongst Jacket players despite a rough year in the loss column.
And even in those defeats, the new wave of SEB football was evident.
Where before, there had been complacency in either success or failure, the 2010 Jackets fought for every yard. In the past, impending defeats were met with acceptance. Last year, even SEB’s setbacks were taken only after a team full of pride in itself had fought hard for four quarters.
“We’ve got ourselves a great group of kids on this team,” said Collins. “That’s a great place to start, but we certainly have more work ahead of us.”
Another boost to the program has been in sheer numbers as the Jackets, who had only 30-40 players on the sidelines at times in recent years, ballooned to over 60 members strong in 2010. This season brings even more growth as almost 90 attended spring camp.
“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” said Collins. “That will really help us improve our depth, which is where we got ourselves in trouble at times last year.”
All that depth also starts off the 2011 year in a better position to learn from last season now that Collins’ game plan has already been implemented for a full year.
Instead of stressing the concepts and terminology of a brand new playbook, the SEB coaching staff got to work with a group already familiar with the schemes and ready to get back to work.
“That definitely makes things easier,” said Collins. “But that’s only a small relief. This is still a team that needs to improve a lot and we’ve got a tough schedule again this year.
“Our goals remain the same. Last year, we wanted to end the losing streak, and we did. Now, we’re searching for that region win and moving on from there. Those games are a long way off, but the path to winning them starts now.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.