TABOR CITY, NC (WECT) - Expectations always run high for the South Columbus football team. Coaches like the great Jack Holley, the winningest high school football coach in North Carolina history, and Joey Price fueled, and exceeded, those expectations year in and year out.
But after the Stallions struggled in 2014 and 2015, Russell Dove was hired to fix the program, and in just his second year, he has that Stallions' swagger back.
Dove didn't waste time making changes at South Columbus, but the most important change didn't have anything to do with Xs and Os
"The main thing was getting everyone to become a family," South Columbus senior Seth Buffkin said. "Getting everyone glued together, and all have one mindset and one goal. That's what he has done good, and that's what you need -- unity in a team."
For Dove, getting his seniors to buy in when they were juniors was the biggest key.
"Friday nights, practices, sometimes they have good ones, sometimes they have bad ones," Dove said of his seniors. "But that class has been a big part in what we are doing and changing the culture back to what they are used to."
That change starts on the practice field.
"We practice harder than we are expected to play," Buffkin said. "When we get (in games), it just makes it easier."
The hard work is paying off. South Columbus has opened the season 7-0, but Dove is not letting the wins go to his players' head.
"There is a difference between being confident and being cocky," Dove said. "We want them to be confident. We want them to be sharp. We don't want them to be arrogant. … That's not South Columbus football."