RAEFORD — Tom Paris doesn’t plan on ignoring the strides former coach Milton Butts made with the Hoke County football program over the last four years.
He and his players have embraced it while preparing for the upcoming season.
“We want to continue to build off what Coach Butts was able to do and what he accomplished,” Paris said. “We are striving to improve and we feel like Hoke County can be a contender in the Southeastern 4A (Conference). We feel like Hoke County can be a contender in the state 4AA. That doesn’t happen by accident.
“There’s only two ways it happens, you are either good or you’re lucky. I would certainly rather be good then lucky, but I would like to have some luck too. I will take all the luck we can get. We want to work as hard as we can to make luck a non-factor.”
Paris inherits a Hoke team that went 2-9 last season and 1-4 in the SEC. Paris, like new Lumberton coach Mike Setzer, is no stranger to the conference. Paris was an assistant at Richmond and Scotland as well as Hoke.
“It’s a tough league, no doubt, toughest one in the state,” Paris said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’re not thinking so much I guess in terms of where we would like to be in the conference. We have, some might say oversimplified it, simplified it to an extreme degree, we’re one day at time, one week at a time, one opponent at a time.
“Our focus right now is to be detail-oriented, pay attention to the little things, get better everyday, come together as a team and as a family, work to improve and build momentum and take that momentum into each every day. Our primary focus all summer is to be 1-0. That’s going to stay our primary focus. You can’t go undefeated if you don’t win the first game. No doubt as tough as our league is, I think we have a tough non-conference schedule too. We have our work cut out for us.”
Paris plans to put his team in the shotgun spread offense and try to take advantage of its speed at the skill positions. Paris also wants to utilize that speed on the other side of the ball as well.
“Offensively we’re going to be very similar to the things we did at Southern Lee,” Paris said. “We are going to be very similar to what you see out of Scotland and Richmond. We would like to throw the ball, prefer to throw the ball when we want to and not when we have to. We think it is very important to try and establish the run game. I think what you are going to see out of us offensively this year is probably going to be a little more up-tempo then what folks been accustomed to seeing out of Hoke County.”
Senior quarterback Antonio Peterkin will return to lead Paris’ new look offense. Peterkin threw for three touchdowns last season.
“Defensively, we are very heavily speed-oriented. We are going to be based out of 4-3,” Paris said. “We’ve sacrificed and substituted speed for size everywhere that we possibly could to the greatest degree we could. We aren’t going to completely give up size to get extreme speed on the field.”
Hoke will open the season against Ashley 7:30 p.m. Friday at Raz Autry Stadium in Raeford.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 or on Twitter @scgolfer.