A new weight room and a second-round playoff loss last year have members of the Military Magnet Academy football team expecting good things this season. The Eagles fell to Lake View, 50-44, in triple overtime in the Class A playoffs.
2013: 5-7, 1-3 in Region 6-A
Coach: Gene Ross (Ninth season)
Returning starters: 15 (7 offense, 8 defense)
Players to watch: C/DT Vernon Washington, OG/LB Shawn Pyatt, RB Tuhkeem Redding, RB Michael Richardson, QB Latreal Deas.
"Last year our kids stuck with it," said head coach Gene Ross.
"Recently we got a new weight room. Typically over the summer, since our students live all over the district, we have a hard time with summer workouts but these guys have been flocking to the weight room.
"This summer has been our best summer ever as far as workouts are involved. Our kids are bigger and stronger than they have ever been.
"If we can hold onto the football, we're going to be tough to beat."
As a magnet school, Ross said the Eagles have students traveling from as far as Hollywood so practices are limited to one per day. The team's non-region games will be used to develop young players.
Ross said the team's philosophy remains the same.
When Military Magnet players get off the bus, their opponents know they're going to run the ball.
And the Eagles get off the bus for every game since they do not have their own stadium, playing games at North Charleston, Garrett or Stall.
Military Magnet may only dress about two dozen players and all of them play both ways, Ross said.
"These guys are warriors," Ross said. "Our starting quarterback this year might also be our starting outside linebacker. It takes a special kid to play football here."