By Brandon Speck
Shannon is about sick of being raided. The Red Raiders are ready to go back to kicking booty.
From injuries to off-the-field issues, nothing went right last season as Shannon went 4-7. Yeah, the Red Raiders made the playoffs, but who doesn’t in the current MHSAA format?
Some bad luck was involved. One week, the team lost three quarterbacks to injuries. But the response to the adversity is what concerned coach Darryl Carter. Changing how adversity affects his team started in the offseason.
“We went from three to five days of work,” Carter said. “Guys bought in. It was a big sacrifice and it wasn’t to overbear them. It was to learn to overcome adversity and be in a better position when the situation comes so we know how to handle it.”
The new plan gets tested tonight as Shannon hosts No. 5 Aberdeen to open a new season.
In a junior varsity game against Itawamba last season, freshman quarterback Jaylen Pounds – who was pushing to make varsity – was injured. Four days later, in a 10-0 loss against eventual North champions Lafayette, the fourth game of the season, two more quarterbacks were hurt. That forced J.T. Loving to leave his linebacker spot to play quarterback, where he had played some a year earlier. The game was still 3-0 in the fourth quarter.
‘We had a meltdown’
In the second week against Tupelo, Carter says the hype got the best of his team in a 47-0 loss.
“We had a meltdown against Tupelo,” Carter said. “Everybody was hyped up and forgot to execute the plan. It was a downhill spiral for about three weeks. We lost to Okolona, beat Nettleton, I think. That’s how much my head was spinning. We had a three-game skid right there and lost key guys from other situations off the field.”
Four losses in five games followed the Lafayette game, including a 1-4 start in division.
Pounds will start this season under center and he has a full house of backs and receivers.
The Raiders beat Aberdeen 24-21 to open last season on the road. The Bulldogs will present a potentially explosive offense against a new-look defense.
“We’ve put in extra drills just to push the guys,” Carter said. “The plan is staying consistent.”