South Lenoir football looks to build upon 2018 finish
South Lenoir held its first official football practice Thursday morning, as the team sets its sights on reaching the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Photo by Laieke Abebe / Neuse News
DEEP RUN — South Lenoir isn’t satisfied with a strong end to 2018.
Prior to playing North Lenoir last Oct. 29, the Blue Devils had lost 15 of 16 contests and hadn’t defeated a conference opponent since the 2016 season finale against Goldsboro. Then, South Lenoir blasted North Lenoir 46-14 and followed with a win over Spring Creek 52-0 on Nov. 1. Although the Blue Devils took a 42-0 loss to Ayden-Grifton a week later to close out the season, confidence was sky-high.
Now, the focus has shifted toward accomplishing something the Blue Devils haven’t done since the 2010 season — advancing to the postseason.
“We used the momentum from last year to set our goals this year,” SL head coach Jeremy Joyner said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs — I think we’ve got enough talent this year (and) I’ve got enough senior leadership this year. This is my fourth year — I’ve got a lot of kids who have bought into the way I want things done to the culture we’re trying to cultivate.”
Among those immersed in the culture is wide receiver and safety Jonathan Haddock, who said the team has a great mindset for the upcoming season.
“We want to make the playoffs and have worked out that way,” Haddock said. “We’re working as one and we’re not giving up on each other.”
Kokou Missebukpo, who looks to play tight end and on the defensive line, said the shift in mindset helped the team with its 2-1 finish and the momentum carried.
“The team has come together this summer and we have to continue doing that during the season,” Missebukpo said. “We were a family toward the end of last season and that’s what helped us win games.”
Offensive and defensive lineman Erich Bluhm said chemistry must remain high for any success in 2019.
“It’s a big part of working on what we need to build upon,” Bluhm said. “I’ve been trying to be more of a leader this season and really trying to help the team come together — we’ve had a good finish, but we want to keep it going.”
Overall, Joyner said the team is putting in the time to make a postseason goal plausible.
“I think it’s only been done nine times in the history of the school,” Joyner said. “It’s something we’ve got a vision (for) and we’re going to try to get there.”