We wrap up our weekly preseason high school football series with a trip up over to Carrboro High School. The Jaguars struggled to a 4-7 finish last season. But now, a new era begins for Jaguar football with Jason Tudryn’s departure for UNC and longtime defensive coordinator Melvin Griffin stepping in to take the reins.
***Listen to the story***
A year after a 15-1 season that ended with a state runner-up finish, the Jaguars failed to replicate any of that kind of championship magic in 2013.
Coach Griffin, who assumed the head coaching duties in June, will have his hands full getting the Jaguars back to the top of the 2A Mid-State conference this fall.
Coach Griffin had been working with the former Carrboro skipper Tudryn since 2007. But Coach Griffin says their connection goes back even further, to their days playing college football.
“It was great to work under Coach Tudryn. We realized through our conversations in the summer of ’07 that we played against each other while he was at UMass and I was at William & Mary in the Yankee conference. He gave me full control of the defense,” Coach Griffin says.
The coaching duo grew close on and off the field. Coach Griffin says his former boss helped him improve as a game planner.
“We worked together for the past seven years. Our families have grown close. Our kids have grown up together. I learned a lot from Coach Tudryn about studying films and practice plans,” Coach Griffin says.
Coach Griffin says offseason workouts have garnered impressive attendance. But he says the offensive and defensive line depth remains an issue heading into Friday night’s scrimmage just a week out from the regular season opener against Cedar Ridge.
“We had great attendance. Things are going smoothly. We’re trying to replace our entire defensive and offensive lines. That’s where we’ve been slow. But we’re getting ready for our scrimmage,” Coach Griffin says.
What is Coach Griffin specifically looking for in the final days of preparation? For starters, he says he’s most excited about the talent and skill returning at the perimeter positions.
“We’re looking for our perimeter skill guys to compete. We have a lot of talent coming back on the perimeter. They gained a lot of experience last year playing as freshmen and sophomores due to the injuries we had,” Coach Griffin says.
The quarterback position is up for grabs at Carrboro due to an injury incurred during basketball season that opened up a signal caller showdown between two unproven seniors.
In addition to identifying a starter there, Coach Griffin says he’s stressing the importance of their protection, and that must come from the offensive linemen.
“All in all, we know the young offensive line is going to make mistakes. What we’re really looking for is for the linemen to be aggressive and fire off the ball,” Coach Griffin says.
Coach Griffin’s Jaguars face a daunting early nonconference schedule that includes competitive 3A and 4A squads. But he says he relishes the challenge and thinks it will help his team for conference play down the line.
“It helps us out a lot. We’ll see multiple formations and different styles. Northwood has a lot of talent coming back. Chapel Hill is up-and-coming this year. We do have a challenging non-conference schedule that will help us prepare,” Coach Griffin says.
As far as what will constitute a successful year for Carrboro, Coach Griffin is keeping it short and simple.
“A successful year is a return trip to the playoffs. Once we get into the playoffs, we’ll let the chips fall where they may, but we’re really looking forward to a return trip to the playoffs,” Coach Griffin says.