Ever since Trojans football coach Shaun Wright returned home to Cross to take over the reins of what was then a tread-water football program, he knew in order for his team to play at that next level of competition in the playoffs they had to schedule those tough opponents to fill out their pre-Region 6A schedule.
The Trojans needed to get game ready and Cross did this by filling their schedule with much larger schools like Timberland, Kingstree, and Lake Marion.
This year the Trojans are thrown into the fire right off the bat with defending Class A State Champion Hunter-Kinard-Tyler waiting on Aug. 29, and their annual rivalry matchup with 2011 Class AA State Champion Timberland the very next Friday, Sept. 5.
Cross gets no break after its annual game against the rival Wolves, hitting the road for a month of away games against Murray, Lake Marion, and Scott’s Branch, plus the Trojans’ first Region 6A tilts against Burke and Baptist Hill before returning home in mid-October.
“The schedule is as tough out the gate as its ever been with Hunter-Kinard-Tyler and Timberland back to back, but we hope that goes along ways into making us better come playoff time.”
The Trojans finished 2013 with a 6-6 mark and a second round loss in the Class A playoffs.
Cross won their first state championship in school history in 2012 and employed the same scheduling strategy to get playoff ready. The Trojans beat McCormick 38-26 in the state title game and finished the season with an 11-3 record.
The Trojans expect a war in Region 6A with region foes Burke, Baptist Hill and St. Johns battling Cross for the region title and a first-round home game once the playoffs begin.
But first, Wright must fill a lot of holes this fall, most notably the void left by former All-State running backs Devontae Shepherd and Dionte Evans. The search has taken Wright through what he calls as typical summer.
“The summer went about how it’s always went,” he said. ”We had a about 17 guys consistently show up. Those guys did everything we have asked.”
The nature of the beast with smaller schools like Cross means every three or four years the Trojans embrace the youth movement. This season proves no different.
“We will be very young in our skill positions and we will have to play them all because of our lack of numbers,” Wright said, who begins his fifth year at the helm of the Trojans football program. “We still expect to win our share of games because that’s what this program has now become. If we don’t get it done it won’t be because we are young it will be because the caliber of teams we play are just better than us.”
Wright said his team, whether they are young or experienced is the product of their efforts.
““We will be young at every position so we will have to work extremely hard as coaches helping these young guys along.”
The Trojan defense took an early hit in the sprig when senior linebacker T.J. Meyers was lost for the season with a knee injury.
“This was very unfortunate. His skill set and leadership was one we were looking forward to.”