CHAPEL HILL– Last time on The Grid, we spotlighted East Chapel Hill High’s Head football coach Jonathan Sherman in his preparations for the 2013 season.

In this edition of our high school football preview series, I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of the standout players on Coach Sherman’s squad.

Sophomore quarterback Connor Stough was proud of his ability to guide his team to the playoffs for the first time in a long while last season. And Stough says he’s looking forward to the 2013 campaign for a number of reasons.

“We got a good team together, and we’re all close,” Stough says. “And that’s what we want. We want good team chemistry and a family-type bond.”

Stough says he believes his Wildcats have a lot of motivation to play hard this coming season. In fact, he says he and his teammates have something to prove.

“Being a 4A school, kind of big-time, we just want to go out there and compete because we haven’t been the highest or strongest-type team out there,” Stough says. “We just want to go out there and prove to everybody that we’re something.”

Senior defensive lineman Chris Alston chimes in on what gets him so fired up to play football.

“It would probably be the Friday nights- putting on the pads, getting ready, especially for home games and homecoming,” Alston says. And I love hitting.”

Speaking of Coach Sherman, Alston highlightes what really sets him apart from most other coaches—‘getting dirty.’

“To me it’s his energy and passion,” Alston says. “Two weeks ago, we were doing the tire pull, and we went up against each other. Most coaches wouldn’t do that. But he got in there and got dirty, and it was fun.”

Senior running back Colby Owens doesn’t hesitate when asked about his favorite memory of playing at East Chapel Hill. He says that’s easy.

Owens scored the game-winning touchdown in the final regular season game of 2012 to book his team’s spot in the state playoffs.

Owens says football is a family affair.

“And my grandfather-my whole team knows him. He’s crazy. He walks down on the field, and he always tells me to hit people hard. So I guess I just got to hit them hard to make him happy,” Owens joked.

All jokes aside though, these kids seem to have one distinct, unifying attribute about them: motivation. And when you bring together a whole group of young, determined athletes, look out! Anything is possible.

Next up on The Grid: A chat with longtime Northwood High School Head football coach Bill Hall.