Northwestern’s football team aims for a state title – every year.They came up just short last fall in a 31-24 overtime loss to Greenwood High in the 4A, Division II title game.Now Coach Kyle Richardson has his team focused on 2013.“It sounds funny, but we don’t need any extra motivation to get to the state championship game,” Richardson said.His teams have played in the state championship four of the last five seasons, with their only win coming in 2010 when Richardson was an assistant.“We see it everywhere in our school, with the championship banners and signs, and everywhere in our city. We know the expectation and it’s something you learn to enjoy,” he said.Northwestern has 15 starters back this season, including all-state, All-Observer quarterback, Mason Rudolph. Rudolph is a prototypical, pro-style quarterback at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He has committed to Oklahoma State.Last year he passed for 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns, and ran for 604 yards and 10 more scores.“I definitely want a shot to get back to the state championship game,” said Rudolph, a three-year starter. “I want to end my Northwestern career with an exclamation point.”Rudolph will have a lot of help, starting with 5-foot-6, 155-pound, do-it-all, running back/wide receiver, senior Dupree Hart.Hart had 103 catches for 1,180 yards and 19 touchdowns last year, while adding 345 yards rushing and six more scores. He also had three return touchdowns. Hart is just 82 receptions shy of breaking former Summerville High, now Cincinnati Bengal, A.J. Green’s career reception mark.Fellow senior wideout, Mustafia Love (6-foot-4, 190) has size and talent (82 catches last year).“I’m really blessed to have all the weapons I have on offense,” Rudolph said. “I just try to get them the ball as much as possible.”Meanwhile, senior offensive tackle, Raydon McCloud (6-foot-4, 330) will also be a big part of the offense.“We want our offense to put as much pressure on our opponents as it can and we have all the pieces to do that,” Richardson said.Richardson is in his third year as head coach after serving four seasons as offensive coordinator under Jimmy “Moose” Wallace.While the Trojan offense gets a lot of the attention, the Northwestern defense was also strong last year, giving up about 19 points per game.The team has an experienced secondary that features, senior Corey Sargent (6-foot, 165), who has multiple Division I offers including Nebraska and Kansas State, as well as classmate Jaquavious Mackey who also has an offer from North Carolina.Meanwhile, the Trojan front seven is led by senior linebacker, Russell Hubbs (6-foot-2, 215), who has a few Division I-AA offers including the Citadel.Northwestern’s schedule is not easy. They open at 4A, Division I, S.C. state champion, Gaffney (Aug. 23), then travel to 3AA runner-up, Charlotte Catholic (Aug. 30), before hosting perennial state power Byrnes (Sept. 13).Then, they get to take on their own region (Region III, 4A), where rivals like South Pointe, York and Rock Hill await.“Having championship expectations every season isn’t always easy,” Rudolph said. “But it is something you have to learn to live with and love. It’s Northwestern football, and we all want to prove we can be a part of that championship tradition.”
Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013
Northwestern has talent, high expectations
Northwestern Coach: Kyle Richardson, 3rd Year (Career Record: 20-8) 2012 Record: 12-3, 6-1 Starters Returning: 15 (8 offense, 7 defense) Top Players: QB Mason Rudolph, 6-foot-4, 220, Sr.: Oklahoma State commit threw for 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. RB/WR Dupree Hart, 5-foot-6, 155, Sr.: Division I baseball and football target had over 100 catches in each of the last two seasons. WR Mustafia Love, 6-foot-4, 190, Sr.: Another major, D-I target looking to build on 82 catches and seven touchdowns from a year ago. FS Corey Sargent, 6-foot, 165, Sr.: Three-year starter is leader of the Trojan defense, has offers from Appalachian State, Charlotte, East Carolina, Kansas State and Nebraska. Can’t miss games: at Gaffney, Aug. 23; at Charlotte Catholic, Aug. 30; at South Pointe Oct. 4; Rock Hill Nov. 8.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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