Last season marked the first time since 2008 that the Spartans had won at least three games in a season, and as far as coach Harris Rainbow is concerned, the best is yet to come.
Completing his second season at the helm, Rainbow, his staff and his players are excited about the upcoming campaign, and that level of enthusiasm had shown throughout spring practice, which ends Friday.
“There is excitement in the air at Campbell,” Rainbow said. “There’s excitement about what we can do and where we can go. There’s an aura here that you can feel and tell by how hard these kids worked during practice.”
Campbell’s three wins a year ago were decisive victories over Morrow, Osborne and Region 4AAAAAA foe Pebblebrook. There were also some bitter defeats.
However, there were also those games that help lay claim to the attitudes that pervade the Spartans spring practice. Many of these players remember losing by only a touchdown to Harrison and nearly upsetting South Cobb in a three-point loss on the road. Marietta also pulled away with a close 44-36 home win.
“Those games are in the minds of these kids,” Rainbow said. “The ones that got away. We have a majority of our guys back with lots of sophomores with varsity experience. Now, it’s about taking that next step. We feel good about what we’re doing and where we’re going.
“We have great kids in the program that represent their teammates and represent Campbell the right way. I’m confident we have the right kind of players that know what we’re about and that want to play football and help build this team.”
Notable absences towards that effort include tight end Armand Gazda, offensive tackle Stephen Washington and defensive end Nick Mitchell. Gazda will play collegiately at Miles College, while Washington will head to Savannah State.
“Those three are big losses for us,” Rainbow said. “They were guys on the line of scrimmage for us, so we need other kids to step us and fill those roles.
“Over spring and summer practices, we have to find the guys with grit and toughness in the trenches. We don’t have overwhelming size on the offensive and defensive lines, and that’s what we’re trying to develop.”
Dekevion Byrd, a four-year starter, is an offensive guard that’s expected to anchor the offensive line. A two-way player who also spends time on the defensive line, Rainbow is “excited he’s back,” and is looking for other kids to get in the mix along the line of scrimmage.
Also returning is three-year starting quarterback Ricky James, who is getting looks from college scouts, as well as Michael Rogers and Austin Green. Rogers and Green are both running backs who also start at defensive back. Rogers has a few Division I scholarship offers to mull over.
While the offensive and defensive lines are questionable areas at the moment, Rainbow is confident in other areas of his team that may not need as much tinkering.
He acknowledged that the Spartans’ strength next season will be at secondary and on defense. The offensive backfield has playmakers in James, Green and Rogers.
“I’m expecting a big year out of (James),” Rainbow said. “He’s a three-year starter who has played a lot of games and knows what he’s doing. Other kids have stepped up in the secondary to help (Rogers and Green), so I like how things are shaping up.”