With success comes added expectations.
Ken Cribb knows a little about that. At a previous stop at Hemingway, his teams could be relied on to play deep into November as he led the Tigers to a Lower State A championship and five league titles.
Now in his second season at Georgetown, Cribb is hoping to create some of that same magic at the confluence of the Black, Great Pee Dee, Sampit and Waccamaw rivers.
“Being a winner year in and year out is something you want of your program,” he said. “It’s something you work hard for, and every day you strive to get better.”
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Prior to the past three years, one would have to dig deep into the Georgetown High football history books to find the last time the program had three straight winning seasons. To make it a fourth, this group of Bulldogs likely will have to overcome early jitters caused by youth and a tough non-region slate.
“We are going to be real green in some spots,” Cribb said. “Only four starters return for us on both sides of the ball. So I’d definitely expect us to have our share of growing pains.
“When you lose the players that we did, guys that were also great leaders, there is quite the void we have to fill.”
Starting spots are up for grabs in the Georgetown backfield, where the team looks to replace both its starting quarterback and top ground gainer from a year ago.
It’s going to be one of those years where we’re going to have to be patient. We’re a work in progress, we’re only writing the first page in this book.
Georgetown football coach Ken Cribb
After seeing time at running back during the 2016 gridiron campaign, Fred Taylor will get his share of looks at quarterback during preseason camp. He will share reps with rising junior Bret Kirtley.
Cribb said there is a distinct possibility both could see the field this season, in part due to their different skill sets.
“Each has their own strength,” he said. “Fred is more of a mobile guy, a dual-threat. Meanwhile, Bret is more of your dropback passer type. I’m sure we will have packages for both of them in an effort to take advantage of their strengths.”
No matter which of them receives the snap, they will have a pair of veteran targets to throw to. Deakidd Anderson and Alex Smith return for their senior years at the school, this after both receivers topped the 400-yard mark last gridiron campaign.
Cliff Greene will be asked to anchor an inexperienced Georgetown offensive line.
The past three seasons, the Bulldogs’ success had depended on their ability to pressure the quarterback. Cribb expects this season to be no different.
“Our defensive line should be our strength, I really feel they can be a key for us,” he said.
The Georgetown head man particularly pointed at the trio of DeMarcus Grant, Malik Johnson and Terrill Steele, hoping their sheer mass and lateral speed will give opposing offensive linemen fits.
More importantly, their performance will help shield the Bulldogs’ back seven.
At linebacker, youth is the primary concern. Particularly at the middle linebacker spot, where they must fine a replacement for Sheldon Billings — a Shrine Bowler who led the team in tackles a season ago.
In the defensive backfield, worries are more performance-based as Cribb cited the team’s inability to defend the pass last year.
“Our secondary was definitely a weakness for us last season. It goes without saying that we have to be better there,” he said.
For a team almost certain to experience its share of growing pains, there is very little time for Georgetown to get up to speed.
In the season’s first four weeks, Cribb’s team will take on Conway, Carvers Bay, Andrews, Stratford and St. James before diving headfirst into Region 6-3A competition — which is rather brutal in its own right.
“It’s going to be one of those years where we’re going to have to be patient,” Cribb said. “We’re a work in progress, we’re only writing the first page in this book. Hopefully our tough schedule early on will prepare us for our region slate, which I would put up there as one of the toughest in our state.”
Coach: Ken Cribb (108-34 career, 7-5 in first year at Georgetown)
2016 record: 7-5, 3-2 Region VI-3A (lost to Brookland-Cayce in second round of Class 3A playoffs)
Key players: Deakidd Anderson (Sr., WR), Alex Smith (Sr., WR/DB), DeMarcus Grant (Sr., OL/DL), Malik Johnson (Jr., OL/DL), Terrill Steele (Sr., OL/DL)
The word: To whom much of is given, much is required. Following consecutive playoff appearances, expectations have changed for the school at the confluence of the Black, Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw and Sampit rivers. This year’s group will lack experience at the quarterback and running back positions, but returns each of its top receivers in Deakidd Anderson and Alex Smith. Though losing both of its top tacklers from a season ago, the Bulldogs defense will rely on its front four of DeMarcus Grant, Terrill Steele and Malik Johnson to wreak havoc.