That’s because the Indians are returning nine of their 11 starters on defense, including the entire defensive line.
Based on the spring, McEachern’s defense may be a tough barrier for any team to break in 2013.
That’s a huge asset for the Indians, who have won three region championships in the past four years but are still looking for that deep run in the state playoffs.
The Indians, who finished the 2012 season with an 8-3 record and went undefeated in Region 4AAAAAA, fell in the second round of the playoffs in 2010 and ’11, and in the opening round in 2009 and ’12.
“Our defense has experience and is fast,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “Our defense is definitely something we will have to rely on early.”
McKenzie Billingslea and Henry Famurewa are returning at defensive end after combining for 14 sacks last fall. Linebacker Glenn Frazier is also back after leading the team with 120 tackles, as is Christian Wade who totaled 102 stops.
Daryus Thompson and Rahmoi Parsons are expected to be back in the secondary after Thompson finished with 58 tackles and Parsons a team-high three interceptions.
The two key defensive losses were safety Kel Parham, who will be playing for Georgia Southern, and linebacker Mike Sherman.
As for the offense, McEachern doesn’t have the same plan to rotate two quarterbacks, like it did last season with Ty Clemons and Ty Griffin.
With Griffin moving on to Georgia Tech, it will be up to Clemons to lead the huddle in 2013.
Clemons rushed for 827 yards and nine touchdowns last season, and with him a more experienced passer than Griffin was, that will allow the Indians to balance their offense under one quarterback. Clemson doubled Griffin in passing yards with 786, adding five touchdowns.
McEachern, known to be a pass-happy offense that can roll up 30 or more points a game, altered its offense to look more like the option, based the talents of Griffin and Clemons.
Hockman expects the unit to have a similar look this season.
“We will continue to do what we can do best,” he said. “We’re probably going to stay with the pistol formation. I think we can do a lot with that.”
Ryan Sherman and Taj Griffin are expected back after contributing in the backfield last season, but McEachern will have to replace some of its offensive line. Center C.J. Norrell and offensive guard Uche Nakdi are two prime candidates to take over after serving as backups in 2012.