The best football season in the history of North Charleston High School was in 2009 when the Cougars posted an 11-2 record, which included two playoff victories.
Over the next five seasons, North Charleston won a total of 10 games. With a 4-0 record heading into Friday’s game at Baptist Hill, the Cougars are hoping this is the beginning of a more positive trend.
Chris Reger, now in his third season as North Charleston’s head coach, says continuity in the coaching staff and a strong commitment from his players have made the Cougars relevant once again.
“The consistency of the entire program has been really important,” said Reger, who was an assistant coach for one season before taking over as the head coach in 2013. “The same practice schedule, the same voices. These kids depend on it and they thrive on it. The kids need that and I, as the coach, need that. Having the same players and same coaches, saying the same things, really helped a great deal.
“We have good kids here. We don’t have any attitudes or selfishness. It’s a completely different team, a different atmosphere. We have guys that would do anything in the world for each other. They push each other every day. We’re not the most talented or athletic team we’ve had, but we are the best team we’ve had in a long time.”
Among the leaders on the team are running back Kahleb Parks and defensive end Dennis Thomas — both seniors.
“Guys like Dennis and Kahleb, they lead by being first in the sprints,” Reger said. “They lead by setting the tone in practice, by working hard every day. That’s what our guys need — to see each other working as hard as they can.”
Parks, who leads North Charleston with 620 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in four games, says the Cougars were tired of losing.
“The big difference is motivation, attitude and effort,” Parks said. “We’re a totally different football team. More people are stepping up as leaders. We’re playing together better.”
Thomas, a three-year starter, sees a difference in team chemistry.
“We believe in each other, trust each other and we fight together,” said Thomas, who has 13 tackles for loss and three sacks in four games.
Success on the football field has breathed life back into the North Charleston community, as well as the student body. Reger says his players are able to walk the hallways with more confidence, which is a total turnaround of recent years.
“We’ve had more people at our games and our students are coming out a lot more,” Reger said. “We need to use football as a rallying point and people will support a winner. I just want people to come to the games. These kids work so hard and I am so excited that their hard work is showing on the field.”
Reger realizes that going undefeated against the schedule that lies ahead will be difficult. However, he does feel his team is better equipped to handle the challenges and adversity as the Cougars prepare to begin Region 6-AA action next week against Academic Magnet.
“Fighting through adversity was not something we were very good at in the last three years,” Reger said. “We’ll have more adversity. There is adversity in every game. I think this team is better able to handle it because they are more mature, more experienced and they really do play very hard every Friday night.”