Editor’s note: This is part of a series on Cumberland County high school spring football workouts.
Brian Randolph was an assistant coach under former Jack Britt football head coach Richard Bailey during the period when Buccaneer football enjoyed consistent success. Randolph has been working hard to return the Buccaneer program to that same level of winning. Last year’s 5-7 record, which included a trip to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A state playoffs, was a step in that direction.
Randolph hopes to keep the march to championship contention going in the season ahead.
“I want to set a standard of excellence that’s been here since the school was open,’’ Randolph said. “Nobody is going to be perfect, but we can all reach for that higher level in whatever we’re doing, whether it’s football or academics. That’s what restoring order is all about this year.’’
Britt rebounded from a 0-3 start last season to go 4-3 in the Sandhills Conference, including a win against 4-A Eastern finalist Seventy-First.
“We were within one game of finishing second in the conference,’’ Randolph said. “The mantra last year was don’t quit, regardless of what happens. They did not quit.’’
But the Buccaneers did suffer substantial graduation losses on both sides of the football, especially defensively, where the entire linebacker corps was wiped out.
The good news on offense is almost the entire line will return, but Randolph will have to replace veteran quarterback Brennan Shortridge.
“I think there are pieces in place to be successful,’’ Randolph said. “But as you know, the conference we play in is difficult.’’
The Buccaneers open with a brutal non-conference slate that includes South View, Pine Forest and Terry Sanford. Pine Forest was the Patriot Athletic Conference regular season title. That trio combined for 31 wins in 2018, and all reached the third round of the state playoffs.
Pass defense will be critical for the Buccaneers as Randolph hopes his team can play a lot of man-to-man coverage. “That frees us up to do more things up front, especially with the loss of linebackers and defensive line,’’ he said. He said Britt needs to find ways to put pressure on the ball and create what he calls havoc plays.
A player who figures to be central in making that happen is cornerback Josh Townsend, who will be a senior this fall.
Townsend said last season the Buccaneers weren’t entirely in the same flow. The focus so far for 2019 is to get everyone doing their job and knowing what that job is on the field.
“Younger guys have got to step up,’’ Townsend said. “Older people have to lead them there, teach them to do it the right way.’’
Townsend expects some familiar teams to be in the hunt for this year’s Sandhills Athletic Conference championship.
“Seventy-First always gives us a good run,’’ he said. “Richmond Senior was really good last year. They had a great team.’’
Randolph is working to get Jack Britt included in the discussion when the subject is conference championship.
“People in this building understand there’s a standard of excellence you have to attain to,’’ he said. “We’re following that same mantra on the football field.’’
Photo: Josh Townsend