PIEDMONT, Ala. (WIAT) — Bulldogs coach Steve Smith was happy with his team’s 8-4 season in 2014, but he knows it could have been better.
“I felt like we left some things out there on the table,” Smith said.
Piedmont managed to make the second round of the 3A playoffs where they gave up 42 points in their loss to Madison Academy. In their four losses in 2014, the Bulldogs gave up an average of 35 points a game.
“We had a chance to do a little bit better than what we did,” he said. “We got some good players coming back and we expect a lot out of those guys.”
Included in that group are All-State defensive players Taylor Hayes and Chase Bobbitt who are looking to build on the positive defensive efforts that saw Piedmont only give up six points total in their final three wins in 2014.
Offense: The Piedmont Bulldogs don’t try to be fancy. They know what they are and they look to be the best at it.
“We’ve always been a shotgun, two-back team,” Smith said. “We’re primarily a running team. We’re probably a 3-to-1, run-to pass ratio.
“I subscribe to the theory that you do a few things really, really well, and you are able to do that against whoever you play.”
The hype for a good season isn’t only for the defense. Both coaches and players think the offense is prime for a great year.
“We’re gonna be great offensively,” senior wide receiver Bayley Blanchard said. “We’ve got Darnell (Jackson) coming back. He’s hungry. We got a great quarterback in Taylor Hayes. All around: linemen, receivers, everybody, we’re ready and we’re going to be quick everywhere.”
Defense: Coach Smith follows his same philosophy on the defensive end: keep it simple and do it well.
“We’re a 3-4 team. We don’t do a lot of complicated coverages,” Smith said. “We just try to rep our guys and teach them what we are trying to do.”
The skills of All-State caliber players isn’t the only quality the Bulldogs defense boasts. They are also looking to fly around the field.
“We got speed. That’s what’s gonna kill,” senior safety Darnell Jackson said. “We got speed. We got people that will get out. We got head hunters.”
Smith said the team will look at implementing a couple of different looks defensively as the season rolls along, but he doesn’t want to overload his kids early, most of whom will be playing both sides of the ball.
“You’re having to work at a very fast pace to make sure that you get enough stuff in to be ready for the first game,” Smith said. “I think it’s important that you keep it simple so the guys can master those few things that you want to make sure that you’re doing 90% of the time.”
Even after last year’s season ended in the playoffs, the Bulldogs not only want to get back, they want to mimic the success of the 2009 version of Piedmont Football.
“Always state championship. That’s the main goal,” Blanchard said. “We just want to go out there and give it our all.”
“I think that should be the goal of every team,” Smith said. “I think every team in the state in every classification should have that as their goal. That’s the best you can do.”Piedmont Bulldogs 2015 Schedule:
8/21 – Fyffe
8/28 – @ Cherokee County
9/4 – Ashville
9/11 – @ Ohatchee
9/18 – Glencoe
9/25 – @ Leeds
10/2 – @ Pleasant Valley
10/9 – Wellborn
10/16 – Westbrook Christian
10/23 – @ Weaver
10/30 – Oneonta
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