|West Charlotte has numbers, goals|
|New coach aims to change Lions' football culture|
|Published Friday, August 8, 2014 3:54 pm|
|PHOTO/PAUL WILLIAMS III|
|First-year West Charlotte High football coach Mo Collins aims to rebuild the Lions' winning culture after the program went winless in 2013. "It's a lot of work, very intense, high-tempo," he said.|
For the first time in many seasons, West Charlotte High has more football players than equipment.
A week into preseason drills, first-year Lions head coach Mo Collins found himself scrambling for gear to outfit a team trying to rebound from a winless 2013 season.
“I actually ran into a problem of running out of equipment, so it’s a good thing for us,” he said. “That means we can buy some more next year, hopefully.”
West Charlotte’s focus for this year, is building hope for a program that has gone from one of Mecklenburg County’s most successful to an afterthought. Collins, a West Charlotte graduate who went on to play in the NFL, wants to forge a new attitude on and off the field.
“It’s a lot of work, very intense, high-tempo,” he said. “That’s what we’re reaching for. Basically we’re trying to re-establish a culture around here of winning and teaching them what it takes to win. They’re starting to buy into it and working hard.”
Depth, long an issue for the Lions, is being addressed with 63 athletes participating in varsity drills. Many of West Charlotte’s best players will have to split time on offense and defense, but there will be enough bodies to produce proper practices.
“It’s been a little rough, but I’m proud to say our numbers are up at West Charlotte opposed to the last couple of years. We’ve always had athletes; now we have to get them on the same page.”
The Lions have some talent, primarily on offense, where senior running back Pralowe Grier (5-8, 175 pounds) returns as the Lions’ top weapon.
“He’s in the best shape I’ve seen him in the last couple of years,” Collins said. “He’s ready to rock and roll. He’s a leader and embraced that leadership role. He’s ready to have a great senior campaign.”
Seniors Marlon Dunlap (6-4, 275) and Malik Baker (6-3, 280) are experienced offensive linemen and Division I college prospects. On defense, Collins anticipates a good campaign from sophomore strong safety Jacory Reaves as part of a renovated unit that includes several two-way players.
“The young guys are my shining stars,” Collins said.
They’ll get a chance to prove their worth at the Aug. 22 season opener against N.C. 4A power Butler. No one expects West Charlotte to compete for a state title immediately, but Collins is taking a long-term approach to rebuilding the program to its former glory.
“The biggest part we’re focused on is character – the character of our men, the character of players, the character in life and work ethic. The kids are buying into it, holding each other accountable. If I can develop my men, the football will be easy.”
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