Knights' Curtin makes significant changes during team's bye week

Sep. 14—LAURINBURG — The first three games for the St. Andrews football team have been — to say the least — underwhelming, as the Knights are 0-3 overall and have averaged almost a 50-point margin of defeat.

While St. Andrews has faced two Top-10 teams, head coach Bob Curtin is dissatisfied with his team's production, which has prompted him to make some changes within the program.

"A lot of work needs to be done," Curtin said. "We've got to do a little bit of soul searching. Right now, I've made some significant adjustments in the way we coach, what we coach, who we're going to coach and how we coach them. The buck stops with me. I need to take responsibility, and I need to take a more active role in the way things are being executed."

Having more control means taking some away from those on Curtin's staff. Moving forward, Curtin will be more involved in how the offense, defense and special teams are operated.

On offense, Curtin will focus on getting the Knights more points on the scoreboard.

"We had to make some changes there," Curtin said. "We're scoring less than seven points a game this year. If you take away our special team touchdowns, over the last 15 games, the offense is scoring less than two touchdowns a game. So, I'll be more proactive and involved in that."

The changes come as the Knights head into their open week, but Curtin began making them to the offense before last weekend's game at Bethel.

Quarterback Jalen Dodd, who had started the first two games for St. Andrews, was replaced in favor of Dylan O'Banks — a decision Curtin made because he believes O'Banks will "provide us the most opportunities."

"Our front runner for that starting position is Dylan O'Banks," Curtin said. "The way I do it, just because you earned your spot doesn't mean you're done competing. Selection for the starting positions at St. Andrews is an ongoing process. You must come each and every day, compete, and perform to a high level to maintain your position."

However, a new starting QB isn't the only difference for the offense. The playcalling won't be the same, either.

"We've got to run the ball," Curtin said. "We need to control the game. We need to control the clock. We've got Capo (Anterius Carpenter) returning. We've got two high school 1,000-plus yard rushers. We've got pretty incredible fullbacks, and we're returning almost our entire offensive line with experience. Everybody on the right side and then one on the left side. That's four out of five. You're going to see that a little bit more going forward."

Although the offensive line is experienced, some of them could be challenged for their starting roles by young D-linemen, one of several changes Curtin is making on defense.

"I think we're going to have some guys that are going to go both ways," Curtin said. "We moved a couple of the defensive linemen who are doing really well, freshmen, moved them over to the offense to bolster them."

Curtin isn't just switching positions around in the trenches — he's doing it with other spots on defense and special teams.

"I moved some guys that I knew were really good in high school and the first one or two years in college football back to their normal positions," Curtin said. "We're looking at putting people in the right places to be successful. I failed to do that, I think, these last two weeks. I understood how good Lindsey Wilson and Bethel were. But I didn't really understand the full scope of just how much that was going to wear on our very young team. Our entire special teams are predominantly freshman. Our entire defense is (mostly) freshman; it's just our first-string linemen that are not. I didn't do a good enough job for that back-to-back-type of competition where Lindsey Wilson left us six starters short going into Bethel."

While he wasn't injured and didn't play against Lindsey Wilson, star linebacker Austin Hunt was a starter that wasn't available against Bethel after he suffered from dehydration, which resulted in him being stretchered off the sideline during St. Andrews' opener against Webber International.

Curtin said Hunt had an echocardiogram done to be sure there were no long-term health conditions but that he is cleared to practice this week and could be back for next weekend's game at NCAA Division I FCS school Davidson.

"He's ready to go, but we've got to integrate him back in the proper way," Curtin said. "Barring anything unforeseen, he'll definitely be ready for Bluefield and most likely ready for Davidson, which would be huge for us. He's the field marshal on the defense."

How the players have responded to the changes that Curtin's made has also been huge. Curtin said practice this week has been positive, and the hope is that the Knights' confidence will be high heading into Davidson.

"When we were in the end zone, I told those guys after the Bethel game, I said, 'Do not show up Monday unless you're ready for change, you're ready to play football, and you're ready to do things the proper way,'" Curtin said. "We've got to let the players know that concern is good. Concern for the health and welfare of the program is good. We're going to turn things around, and the time is now."