Now he is hoping that some of these young players who have game-day experience will show maturity and leadership for the 2010 season.
“The senior class from the year before, we had 20 players to graduate,” Mintz said. “In that three-year period, we have replaced every position on the football team. Last year, it showed and there’s no way around that.”
The Purple Devils failed to score in the season-opener and lost to Westbrook Christian 28-0.
History was made in week two as the Victory Christian Lions defeated Ragland for the first-time ever in eight tries. The final score was 34-20.
Ragland picked up its first win of the season in week three as they defeated Jefferson Christian Academy 40-0.
Ragland improved to 2-2 with a 25-0 shutout over Parkway Christian. They then lost to Hokes Bluff 35-14 to fall to 2-3 halfway through the season.
The Purple Devils rebounded with a 41-6 victory over St. Bernard and a 30-10 victory over Jacksonville Christian.
The next week, Ragland lost to Coosa Christian 14-0, then lost to Appalachian 39-13. And then lost to West End 26-7 to end the regular season on a three-game losing streak.
The losing streak reached four as the Purple Devils lost to Gaston in the opening round of the playoffs 32-6 and they ended the season 4-7.
Mintz has spent two different stints at Ragland. The first was from 1988-1990. It was Mintz who led Ragland to its first-ever state playoff berth in 1988. The Purple Devils were 6-5 that season. The next season, Ragland was 8-4 and in Mintz’s third season at Ragland, the Purple Devils were 1-9.
Mintz moved on to Glencoe where he was head coach for six years and compiled a record of 36-33. He then coached at Southside for four years and had a record of 13-27 before finding his way back to Purple Devil country.
Six years ago, the Purple Devils were 9-3 and they slipped to 6-5 five years ago. Four years ago, the Purple Devils enjoyed its finest season ever as they were within one win of playing for a state championship. They went 9-5. The Purple Devils went 8-3 three years ago and 7-4 two years ago. Last year, Ragland was 4-7.
Mintz’ nine-year record at Ragland is 58-45. His 19-year overall record is 107-105.
Experience and maturity
Mintz said keys to a successful season include experience and maturity.
“We did not have that last year,” Mintz said. “But, with that being said, it was a very fun year in terms of the kids’ attitude. They were young and eager and just a very good group of kids. It was probably one of the more fun and better years we’ve had in the past four to five years.”
Mintz called last year a rebuilding year where kids were learning and going through the process of receiving an education every week.
“With the exception of a few injuries, I think the kids improved from week to week,” Mintz said. “That’s really all you can ask. When you’re playing two ninth-graders on the line of scrimmage and an eighth-grader having to fill in at quarterback, you can predict how that is going to end. Those kids did a good job for us, but again, it all went back to experience and maturity.”
Mintz said there were only two players on offense last year with any playing experience and the defense was basically the same thing.
There were eight senior players to graduate from last year’s team, of which four were starters.
Key players returning
Mintz said they still have a lot of young kids but at least they have a little experience under their belts.
Key players returning include seniors Devin Wilson, Colton Echols and John Arnold, Jacob Hollingsworth, Cole Bearden, along with freshman Keshawn Killings.
“The junior class has several key players in it as does the senior class,” Mintz said. “But the biggest part of our team will come from the sophomore class and several of them are bringing in a year’s experience. We’re still going to be young but these young guys do have some talent.”
Mintz said he is excited and believes the kids are excited.
“They feel like they have an opportunity to do really well,” he said.
Past several years
Mintz said they have done pretty well the past several years and reached a point where they had reached the semi-finals (2006).
“The last time we were making schedules, it was really hard to schedule Class 1A opponents,” Mintz said. “As a result of that, we ended up with some teams that realistically did not need to be on our schedule. But at the same time, it could not be avoided.”
Mintz is talking about Class 4A Hokes Bluff and Class 2A West End.
Every team Ragland plays this year is Class 1A.
Class 1A, Region 6
Ragland remains in Class 1A, Region 6 along with Appalachian, Coosa Christian, Donoho, Jacksonville Christian, Jefferson Christian, Parkway Christian and Saint Bernard.
Mintz said Appalachian is the team to beat in the region.
“Coosa Christian has shown great improvement every year so I think they will be something to reckon with,” Mintz said. “I think those two teams will be at the forefront.”
“Although young, having some kids back who have experience is a plus,” Mintz said. “We are trying to keep things simple so they can just play off their talents and abilities. That’s basically what we’re going to do. We’ve got talent and looking at our defense, I think they will be a fast group, so speed on defense is another key.”
Things to improve on
Mintz said they have to find people for the offensive line.
“We still are inexperienced there and we just have to find out who is going to step forward or who we will have to move there,” Mintz said. “We have to find five guys who are willing to work together as a unit.”
Mintz said he would like to have a successful season, win more than they lose obviously.
“I feel like we can compete with everyone on our schedule,” Mintz said. “There are a lot of times and most of the years I’ve coached, I couldn’t always say that. Obviously, we would like to win the region. If that’s not possible, then we would like to be one of the top echelon teams and be able to make the playoffs.”
Making up the rest of the Ragland coaching staff are Andy Eden, Rush Rutledge, Rodney Lipscomb, Jonathan Nix and James Causey.
Ragland opens the season Aug. 27, on the road at Fayetteville.
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.