Sophomore poises team for first victory

October 6, 2008 8:44:11 AM PDT
At 6'3", 194 lbs, Carrboro starting quarterback Derek Bryant is a pretty big guy for his position.

In five games, he has already thrown for over 1,000 yards, nearly as many as he did all last season. Just a few weeks ago, he received a letter from ACC-powerhouse Clemson. The really scary part? He's only 15.

While the fledgling Carrboro football program has yet to win its first game in the state of North Carolina, they are greatly improved from last year's inaugural campaign. Blowout losses to Cedar Ridge (41-15) and Cardinal Gibbons (51-8) last season have become competitive, two-score contests this season (34-21 and 41-32, respectively). The team's improvement is especially noticeable on the offensive side of the ball. Since faltering a bit out of the gate, Coach Jason Tudryn's new high-octane spread offense has averaged 28 points per game the past three weeks, more than double the unit's output last season. This success is in no small part due to the improved play of the Jaguars' Sophomore signal caller.

"I worked on my passing, basically. Pitching and throwing. Just passing the ball to receivers and making sure they're catching the balls," Bryant said of his work over the summer. The team attended a week of football camp at Appalachian State this summer, a grueling process that Bryant believes helped the team get better.

"We had practice at 4:30 in the morning," he said, laughing. "It helped us more than it hurt us.

In addition to the summer workouts, Bryant believes the offense's development is also a result of the squad's new-found confidence.

"Last year, we went out there and we really didn't believe that we could win or put points on the board. This year guys are strapping up knowing that they're going to win every game coming in."

While the tangible success has yet to materialize for the Jaguars, Coach Tudryn has built a team that plays together and puts the goals of the team in front of their goals as individuals, hallmarks of any good time.

"We've got a committed group of 37 kids, freshmen through seniors, that show up every single day and some of them don't get any reps on Friday night, but they're still here every day. It's a tribute to their characters," said Coach Tudryn said.

This attitude appears to be contagious. Even as he's receiving letters from top-tier schools like Clemson, Bryant remains focused on trying to help his current team win football games.

"It's been one of the craziest and best things I've ever done in my life. Just being with the guys, coming out here after school is unreal," Bryant said of his experience playing football at Carrboro thus far. "It's unexplainable at times. I feel like I'm part of their family and stuff. Every day, no matter what, I know I'm going to have someone there beside me."

It may not be Friday night against Northwood. It may not be the next week at home against Hobbton. But sooner or later, Carrboro is going to win a football game in the state of North Carolina.

Just don't be surprised when it's your team getting outgunned by Derek Bryant and the Jaguars.


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