The Barry Shuford era of East Mecklenburg football officially started in less than ideal conditions, but the driving rain Friday morning didnt stop the Eagles from going hard in their first practice of the season.
The 25-year veteran coach says the forecast for his team in promising, despite a roster likely only boasting three seniors.
• Shuford says East Meck will likely start at least five sophomores and five freshmen, including starting quarterback. Khalil Gilliam. He says Gilliam has great potential and reminds him of a young Christian LeMay, who led Butler to a state championship in 2009 and later accepted a scholarship to Georgia . The Eagles had about 50 players out Friday, but Shuford hopes the numbers grow to 70-80 once some freshmen complete their paperwork.
• East Meck does have some veteran leadership, with running back/free safety Bryon Collins leading the way. Shuford said the senior will rarely come off the field. Senior offensive guard Devin Griffin has also impressed his new coach.
• Shuford brings three assistant coaches with him from Olympic, where he spent the last seven seasons: Offensive coordinator Brandon Snead, Colin Burnett and Will Hawkins.
• Shuford plans to run the same hybrid Wing T offense he ran at Olympic and Butler. Shuford actually drew the offense up when he was an assistant coach at Independence in 1996.
• The coach has lots of experience in the Southwestern 4A conference as head coach at Butler (1997-2002) and Garinger (1992-95), as an assistant at Independence (1996) and now at East Mecklenburg.
• Shuford hopes to follow his history of starting or rebuilding programs, like at Butler, Parkwood and most recently at Olympic (2007-2013), where he left as the programs winningest coach (53-32).
Its kind of late in my career to be rebuilding a team, but Im closer to home and its great to be back in the SW4A conference, said Shuford, 52.
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