Colleton County took major steps in 2013, snapping a 36-game losing streak with two victories. It may not sound like much to outsiders, but third-year head coach Chris Collins says those two wins did wonders for the confidence of the players in his program.
"Our players are showing a lot more confidence, which has made them a lot more competitive with each other," said Collins. "I feel like our players are more eager to compete with other teams, which is a big change from when I got here. We feel we are ready to step on the field and compete better with the teams in our region. We realize we still have a ways to go but we feel like we have made a lot of progress in the last two years."
The Cougars will hand count on their defense this fall. Collins returns seven starters, including several with at least two years of starting experience. Junior end Norman Hand will anchor the front. Shemar Simmons, a starter on the front the last two years, is moving to inside linebacker this season. Linebackers Nick Salley and Davon Doggett are third-year starters, and Trey Murray will anchor the secondary.
The strength offensively is along the front with the return of starters Jacob Cox, Marty Gooding and Terry Gadsden. Senior receiver Latrell Nieves is the top playmaker offensively.
"We lost all of our skill people but we feel really good about the line," says Collins. "Nieves is a special player and he will be an important part of our offense."
Collins feels his team can match up physically and athletically with most of the teams on the schedule this fall. Getting over the hump mentally is the focus this season.
"The physical tools are there," he said. "Now it's about the mentality of our team and being able to overcome adversity. We have to be a stronger team mentally if we want to take the next step."