North Pitt head coach Greg Watford knew from past experience that he wouldn't turn around the Panthers program in his first season, instead deciding to ay the groundwork that would be the stepping stone on the return to being competitive in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference.
Last season the Panthers finished 1-10. A young squad mixed with a new triple option offense caused some issues, but the core group began to buy into what Watford was offering.
Entering year two, the large majority of the team returns, now with a full grasp on Watford's expectations for the team. He hopes to continue to build this season.
"Efficiency (is the goal)," Watford said of his goals for the season. "We want to be more efficient. Last year we made strides, South Central went up 6-0 on the first play. We drove the length of the field to the five-inch line and started backing ourselves up. So we want to eliminate things of that nature and become more efficient this year."
Even in year one North Pitt showed that they could play better than what their record appeared. Playing Kinston, which was ranked as the second best 2-A team in the state, tight for a half before the Vikings pulled away. That moment showed what the group could become over the next few years if they continue to make such strides in practice.
"We also want to install some new pieces (to the playbook)," Watford said. "We want to make it so opponents can't just gang up on the line of scrimmage. We want to get bigger, stronger and faster, and we've done those things. We're excited to see what the product is going to look like."
Ball security will once again play a critical role in the NP offense, as misdirection and speed will be the highlights of the ground based game. Watford is hoping to reduce turnovers through improved ball security, which has become a focal point in practices.
"In our fundamental period we're working hard on stripping the ball, maintaining balance and keeping the ball high and tight," Watford said. "We want them to maintain five points of contact with the ball. With receivers coach (Larry) Edwards is taking over the group. He is really working on snatching the ball out of the air, high pointing the ball, things of that nature, really just basic fundamental responses to that problem."
Watford gave credit to his team for their improvement in ball security over the summer workouts.
"They've done a really good job with it over the summer," Watford said. "We just hope that when the put the pads on it sticks and it can all melt together."