FORT SMITH (KFSM) - In 2018, Fort Smith Southside rode an explosive offense into the second round of the playoffs. The only thing that could stop the Mavericks was graduation.
"Obviously we lost a lot of good players, had seven kids sign last year," admits head coach Jeff Williams. "The last couple years we’ve been very explosive offensively and had a lot of great players. So we’ll be a lot different then what we’ve been the last two years."
As the offense figures things out, it’s the seasoned Mavs defense in the driver’s seat.
"We have a lot of returners on defense, and we’re going to have to pull out all the stops," says senior Jeremiah Van Hook.
"It’s taken us a little more time offensively to catch up to where we are defensively," says Williams. "We're still figuring out what we can do."
"Our defense has really hit its stride, on offense we’re still trying to figure things out," adds senior Josh Hannan, "but we got the ball rolling and we’ve got a lot of guys who know what they’re doing so I think it’ll be alright."
"I think our offense will surprise people," says senior Jake Tyler.
Despite so many returners on defense, it's still a relatively young group. Most of those starters are juniors, with few seniors expected to play major on the field roles. It's a junior class that saw plenty of playing time as underclassmen.
"I looked up in the quarterfinals, and we've got eight, nine sophomores out there," says Williams of 2018. "So we've got a more experienced defense, and in our league you've got to play defense to win."
Southside is looking to leave their mark on the 7A Central before moving back to the West next year.
"We play in a hard division of football, but I think we’re able to compete really well and I think this year we’ll be able to compete once again," says Hannan.
Southside actually starts the season against a future 7A-West foe, as they host Bentonville West September 6th.