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After historic undefeated football season, Aggies play forward
New N.C. A&T coach pushes players to forget past
 
Published Friday, April 13, 2018 6:11 pm
by Herbert L. White

N.C. A&T’s undefeated 2017 season is so last year.


The Aggies, who swept the MEAC championship and the black college national title with a 12-0 campaign – the first in school history – have to move on. New head coach Sam Washington, who was promoted following Rod Broadway’s retirement, is working on making sure his players know it, too.

“It’s going to be a very tough act to follow,” said Washington, who was Broadway’s defensive coordinator for 11 years at Grambling and A&T. “I think I’ve learned quite a bit from him and it’ll work in my favor and I’m sure it will. That part, I’m not concerned with, but coming off a 12-0 season, deflating the players and getting them to move on to the next season is the tough part and not living or dwelling in the past. That season is gone and it’s time to move on.”

A&T will have to get along without four offensive line starters, including two-time All-America tackle Brandon Parker of Kannapolis, one of the best at his position available in the 2018 NFL draft, and All-MEAC center Darriel Mack. The defense must replace end Kenneth Melton, third-team all-conference linebacker Marcus Albert and first-team all-MEAC linebacker/safety Jeremy Taylor.

The Aggies, who finished sixth in the final 2017 FCS poll, are far from depleted, though.

Washington inherits quarterback Lamar Raynard, the MEAC’s offensive player of the year, first-team All-MEAC receiver Elijah Bell, running back Marquell Cartwright and tackle Marcus Pettiford at tackle. Eight starters return on defense including first-team all-conference cornerback Frank McCain and defensive end Darryl Johnson.

“We have a great group of guys and a great coaching staff,” Washington said. “They see the work that needs to be done, they see where they are and they see what [success] looks like. That’s the bonus in it. We know what the effort and the time that required to have a 12-0 season, and a lot of people don’t understand that, never experienced it. That should work in our favor.”

Washington doesn’t anticipate a philosophical change on either side of the ball. A&T will stick with a familiar theme: Establish the ground attack on offense and stop the run on defense.

“The bar is not going to change,” he said. “We’re going to leave the where it is and it’s our not only our desire, but we’ve got to reach that bar. [I’m] looking forward to the challenge and we’ll see how it unfolds.”

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