Cox Mill strives for successful second season

Last season, not much was expected of Cox Mill's football team.

Not having a senior class, being a first-year school, and having to adjust to a new coaching staff had observers discounting the Chargers.

"We didn't have a lot of experience," said Cox Mill head coach Greg Neuendorf. "Last year, it was a lot about teaching the fundamentals of the game."

Cox Mill finished the 2009 season 1-11 (1-6 in the South Piedmont Conference). The team had competitive games against Mount Pleasant, who they lost to 26-22, and against Central Cabarrus, who they defeated 30-13 to earn their first program win.

Neuendorf said he's noticing the difference a year of experience makes for a young team.

"We're a year bigger, a year faster, a year stronger," he said. "Having run the same system last year - both in offense and defense - has made them much more comfortable than last year."

The Chargers offense will once again run the option, led by their quarterback, Arrick Hincher, and running back, Jhaquille Hankerson.

Big things are expected from Hincher, who Neuendorf said has improved this offseason.

Hincher's better understanding of the Charger offense should pay dividends for the junior.

Hankerson, the team's leading rusher last season, will have to come up big for the team to score more. The Chargers only averaged 8.9 points per game last season, which simply won't cut it in a competitive SPC.

On the other end, Cox Mill will run the 3-4 defense. Neuendorf said that with a significant number of defensive players returning, he will have the ability to try some of those players at new positions.

That will mean that Charger fans will probably see fresh faces as Neuendorf tries to get the right fit for his team.

A familiar face will be linebacker Donovan Moss, who was all-conference last season. The senior will play a key role in whether the Charger defense, which gave up an average of 38.6 points per game in 2009, will be successful this season.

With the entire team returning, aside from a few players who moved out of district, and with a new freshman class, Cox Mill will have greater depth than last season.

But the biggest difference for Neuendorf is that with having 75 players this season - 15 more than last year, there is now competition for playing time.

"Guys are working harder because they know there are other people out there who want that same position," said Neuendorf.

"It pushes everyone to work harder, which makes everyone in the program better."

With more players, Neuendorf said he will also be able to have a full scout team to better prepare his starters for their upcoming opponents.

Neuendorf added that he'll also be able to play fewer players on both offense and defense, which should help the team in late-game situations.

"We won't have to worry as much about kids not being able to go in the fourth quarter," he said.

The Chargers will still be young this season, only having 12 seniors on the team.

"We'll still depend a lot on juniors and sophomores," said Neuendorf.

Changing the mind-set of his players from last season could be the head coach's biggest job.

"We have to stop thinking like underdogs so we can hopefully compete every week," said Neuendorf.

"Until we play somebody else, whether it's a scrimmage or that first game, they won't know how much better they are."

Neuendorf said he's excited about this season, explaining that his Chargers have the potential to shock some of its opponents.

"They're going to be surprised with how much improvement this team has made," he said.