Jun 20, 2012
Throughout the summer of 2010 there was a feeling in Durham that something special was about to happen.
At Hillside High School, a special group of seniors with a lot of talent were working out, practicing for what they hoped would be a special season. The Hornets ended up with a perfect 16-0 record and the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A state championship.
This summer, the Class of 2013 is trying to restore that preseason feel.
"We're going to be a state champion," senior defensive back and captain Korrin Wiggins said, responding to the question, "What do you expect from the team this season?"
"If my captain says that, then yeah we can do that," Hillside coach Antonio King said. "That's what you need. You've got to have belief, you've got to wish it in, you've got to fight."
The state championship team in 2010 had a lot of talent, it also had a lot of leaders.
"Obviously everybody saw the face of the team, and undoubtedly Vad Lee (quarterback on 2010 team now playing at Georgia Tech) was the outspoken leader of that team, but there were a lot of other kids that people didn't see that were leaders," said King.
"I think this team has some of that leadership as well," he added.
Since it's only June, a state championship appearance is several months away for whichever team makes it, and Hillside will have a number of tough games to open the season with.
In week one, the Hornets will travel to New Bern. The Bears beat Hillside in Durham last season, avenging the playoff loss as the Hornets marched to the state title in 2010. Hillside will also play E.E. Smith, Dudley and Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha in the non-conference.
"We get to see what we're made out of real early, test our strengths and our skills so it will help us when we hit the conference," running back Khris Francis said.
Wiggins said the team will have to step up to the challenge early. "We want to play the top dogs. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, so we're going to go against the best competition."
For King though, scheduling is all about looking ahead to the playoffs and preparing his team.
"We just want to put ourselves in a position to be ready to go to the playoffs," he said. "The way we schedule, we just want to play football. At the end of the day, we just want to play football."
One group of players that will have to grow up fast this season is the linemen. Hillside lost several offensive and defensive linemen from last season, in fact, only one starting offensive linemen returns this season.
"The game is won in the trenches, so we've got to get our offensive and defensive lines up to speed," King said. "Skill positions I think we're fairly decent, but the game is won down there with the big guys."
The goals are clear for Hillside though. The Hornets want and expect to compete for a state championship.
"These guys want a championship, they want to get back there and feel it again," said King. "It was good being able to do it one time. It's hard trying to repeat, so we want to try to get back to the experience."
And King believes it's a good thing that his captains, like Wiggins, believe the team is capable of competing on the statewide level.
"If your seniors believe, they're going to filter it down through everybody else," he said.
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