SHANNON – The Red Raiders football team turned their losses into wins.
Despite losing a significant amount of starters in the offseason and having several key players go down with injuries, Shannon posted an 8-3 record and advanced to the second round of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs where it will play at Greenwood tonight.
Due to graduation, the Red Raiders lost 15 starters from last year’s 11-2 team that reached the 4A quarterfinals, and Bryant Sterline, who was supposed to be the team’s starting fullback in 2010, transferred to Tupelo.
The only offensive starters returning this season were running back Bodarius Taylor and quarterback Legilbert Bogan.
“All the receivers, linemen, tight ends … all of them were gone,” Shannon head coach Chad Cook said.
To make matters worse, Taylor went down with a leg injury on the third day of practice.
“When we put the shoulder pads on for the first time, I had one guy on offense,” Cook said. “What I was going to try to do was build a team around those two running backs. Well, I lost them.”
With Sterline in Tupelo and Taylor out for the first five games of the season, Cook and his staff had to start all over.
“The 10 that we decided to start on offense, the last time they played was on the JV last year,” Cook said.
On defense, Shannon was also hit pretty hard with losses.
“Defensively last year, we lost three defensive linemen, three of the four linebackers and three of the four on the back end,” Cook said. “What we had to do was adjust.”
At a school rich in football tradition, Cook and Company had more players go both ways – play both an offensive and defensive position – this season than they have ever had.
“Everybody kind of interchanges,” Cook said. “All my DBs play as receivers, running backs and tight ends are playing as linebackers and my O-line is playing on the D-line.”
With the changes in personnel, Shannon wasn’t able to ease into their 2010 schedule.
The Red Raiders played Southaven, a top 6A team, in a jamboree game and then opened up the regular season on the road at defending 5A state champion West Point. The following week they had to play Memphis juggernaut, East High School.
With injuries also mounting up, it was rough going in the early going.
“We hit a little streak right here at the end,” Cook said from his football office on Thursday afternoon. “We finally got everybody. … We’re healthy at the right time and we’re playing pretty well at the right time.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal