For 11 games, the members of the 2010 South Iredell football team felt like they were in a dream, as the Vikings went undefeated in the regular season to win the Catawba Valley Athletic Conference championship.
First-year coach Scott Miller and his team had not only gone 11-0, including 7-0 in conference play, heading into playoffs, but had also registered the Vikings' only second winning season in the past 15 years.
But in one play their year took an unexpected turn. With 6.7 seconds left in the first-round game against Forest Hills, their opponents converted a two-point conversion to end South Iredell's season in a 31-30 loss.
The end of their dream season left a bad taste in the Vikings' mouths.
"Last year was last year, but I'm not going to say it doesn't bother me and the rest of our team," said Miller. "But I think we are going to be a better team because of it. We are moving forward and are ready to have another great season."
The Vikings have a lot of ingredients for success in the spread offense, which was implemented at the beginning of last season, translating into South Iredell scoring more than 36 points per game.
The offense's success starts with all-conference tailback Cameron Mattox, who rushed for 1,655 yards and 19 touchdowns in his first year as a varsity player. Mattox is ready to prove that 2010 was no fluke for himself or his team.
"We still feel like we have a lot to prove and a lot to show people," Mattox said. "I've worked even harder to get ready for this year and I'm going to come real hard and show people what I can do again."
Mattox forms one of the most dynamic duos in the area with senior wide receiver Quataye Smyre.
Smyre, who has committed to East Carolina, will line up at receiver, running back, quarterback (wildcat-formations), kick returner, punt returner and defensive back within each game. The multi-talented threat had more than 1,500 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns last year and is looking to be even better in 2011. Smyre's presence should also help his fellow wideouts, seniors D.J. Gillespie and Austin Wright.
"I just want to do whatever is best for my team on every play," said Smyre. "Sometimes that means I have the ball, and sometimes that means I am the decoy."
Mattox and Smyre will have to help whoever takes over the quarterback position from Corey Powell, who graduated. Senior Adrian Whitener, who has the most experience, and Davin King are battling for the position.
Whoever plays quarterback will benefit from the return of three starting offensive lineman - center Adam Armstrong, right guard Jake Ferrar and left tackle Rob Gorley.
"We're not big on the offensive end, but the spread allows us to be quicker and effective," Miller said.
While the offense rolled through its opponents last season, the Vikings' defense was just as impressive as they allowed only 12 points per game.
The unit, which held opponents to three shutouts, will again be led by Catawba Valley defensive player of the year Lachastan Smith, who will move from defensive end to linebacker. Smith had 99 tackles and seven sacks last year.
Smith will have a lot of help with all-conference linebackers John Bustle and Jamar Gillespie beside him, as well as Trey Williams and Zane Gibby leading the defensive front.
Smyre, who had four interceptions last year, and Scott Miller will lead the secondary. Miller, the coach's son, had 140 tackles from his linebacker position in 2010. He will shift to free safety but will line up all over the field in their multiple formations.
Coach Miller and South Iredell feel like they have to prove last year was no mistake and will be very motivated from their opener Aug. 19,, when they host Lake Norman.
The team has worked tirelessly through the offseason to make sure they are ready to continue last year's success.
"We realized early last year that winning football games was a great thing for more than just this team," said Miller. "We got the student body and the whole Troutman community excited about Friday nights. We want to continue to be something people look forward to, something people are proud of."