After barely missing the playoffs last season, Putnam City is more motivated than ever to break through and get back into the postseason.
The Pirates' success will be counting on two key components that every team would love to be able to do well — defense and run game.
In both cases, the Pirates' strength is its speed.
At running back, PC will rely heavily on 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior Casey Curtis, one of the quicker ballcarriers in the state.
Curtis' breakaway speed becomes even more of a weapon because of his underrated strength as a power runner. He also has the vision and ability to cut back against the grain and make big plays.
Defensively, the Pirates have a quick group of defensive backs, and a linebacking corps that mixes speed and power.
Elie Rushing, a 240-pound senior, anchors the group at middle linebacker, with another senior, 190-pound Desmond Tilly moving into one of the outside linebacker spots in PC's 4-3 defense.
“We've got a lot of speed on that side of the ball,” Tilly said. “We're trying to get our fastest and toughest guys on that side of the ball.
“I think we can be great if we keep working hard. We have a lot of young guys, but I think our senior leadership will take over.”
Anthony Hogg will be another valuable player at the skill positions. And Curtis is getting some work at cornerback as well, which he hopes will improve his recruiting value.
“I used to play defense in middle school and it feels good to start playing it again,” Curtis said. “I think it will show that I'm an athlete and I can play positions other than running back.”
The offensive and defensive lines will be anchored by Trevon Biglow and Derrick Rivers, but coach John Wofford hopes to develop more depth to keep his top linemen from playing both ways all the time.
Devin White, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior, steps into the starting quarterback job and has the Pirates excited about his abilities in the position.
“Devin throws the ball really well,” Wofford said. “But he's also got some speed and elusiveness we really like. Caleb Lee was able to run the ball pretty well for us at quarterback the last couple of years, and I think Devin is just an extension of that.”