The York Cougars are preparing for the 2019 season with a new coach who is making changes to improve individual skills and strengthen teamwork.
Dean Boyd, who had 22 years of success at Marlboro County, it the new Cougars’ head coach. Boyd won two state championships, reached the Lower State Championship eight times and claimed a dozen region titles in his tenure in Bennettsville. He guided his team to the playoffs in all 22 seasons.
“I made changes where they needed to be made,” Boyd said. “We will have new offensive and defensive schemes this year. Some players have moved to new positions.”
The numbers for the Cougars are down. York has nine seniors this year.
“I am concerned about the numbers,” Boyd said. “However, we are getting a great effort so far from all of those who are here. We are small in numbers and big in heart.”
The new head coach says he is pleased with the progress his team has made since he took over.
“We have had a good work ethic thus far,” Boyd said. “I feel like we are slightly ahead of where I was at Marlboro County last year at this point in the fall preparations. The players are beginning to buy in to the new schemes.”
York returns only three starters on each side of the ball, but Boyd said he has some excellent candidates to step up and take the starting spots.
York will have an inexperienced group overall on offense. The line is young and small. Boyd said he is counting on Will Boggs and Ashton Shannon to provide leadership for that group.
The quarterback situation is a work in progress with several candidates. He thinks he has excellent potential at running back with Frank Thompson and Jerermiah King. The receiving corp has good size, speed, and ball skills.
Boyd said his defense also will be young and inexperienced. The defensive line will have good speed. The linebackers are only average size, but they are quick. The secondary is very athletic with good size and speed, but they are extremely young.
The Cougars kicking game is in good hands with Beck Johnston and Max Haynes.
Boyd has set goals for this year’s team.
“We want to be competitive in the region,” he said. “We want to get better every day we practice and improve with each game. We want to get back to where we need to be.”
The veteran mentor also has high expectations for each player.
“I expect total effort from every player every day, and I want them to do things right,” Boyd said. “I expect them to be leaders in the classroom and give their maximum effort each day in their academic work. I want them to give back to the community and do the little things right.”
The Cougars play in a tough region, and they have a difficult non-region slate. That is the way Boyd wants it.
“When you play tough teams in non-region it prepares you for the region and ultimately the playoffs,” he said. “I do not mind the tough schedule. Nothing is free. You have to earn it. We will come prepared to play every game.”
The Cougars face a big challenge in Boyd’s first season at the helm. Low numbers, inexperience, an overall lack of team size, and a difficult schedule.
“We have a plan, and we will stick to it,” said Boyd. “There will be some adversity, but we will learn from it and get better. People will have to be patient with us.”
Boyd, who played football and baseball at York High School, is excited to be back home to lead the Cougars.
“I am vested in this program, because I am a York boy,” added Boyd. “I feel some pressure, but I am very happy to be back home. There is always pressure to win, but I put that on myself. I am confident that with continued hard work this team can get it done.
Coming next: Catawba Ridge