HURRICANE — Over his seven years as head coach, Jeremy Taylor has seen consistency with his Hurricane football team.
For Taylor, however, that is both a positive and a negative, in some regards.
Taylor's teams have never finished a regular season with a sub-.500 record and have made the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, but the team has also not advanced past the second round of the playoffs in Class AAA.
Last season, the team ended the year 5-6 — the Redskins' only sub-.500 finish under Taylor — after a first-round playoff loss to eventual state champion Martinsburg.
While season No. 7 did not end the way Taylor wanted, he said that No. 8 could be a special one for the Redskins, who return a veteran group on the offensive side of the football.
"If we're going to make a run, this is probably it," Taylor said. "We're thin, though, with just 55 kids total - and that's including freshmen."
Taylor is encouraged about an offensive unit that returns the bulk of its talent in tact from 2018, led by senior running back Christian Hill, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
As big of a bonus as what Hill's return is, Taylor said the return of the senior-laden offensive front ahead of Hill is critical to the team's success.
"We will probably start nine seniors on offense, so that's always good," Taylor said. "Our strength should be our offensive line and, of course, our running back."
In addition to Hill's return, Hurricane also brings back quarterback Austin Womack, who gained valuable experience last season.
For the Redskins to be successful, Womack needs to improve the passing game, which struggled in 2018 and turned Hurricane into a one-dimensional attack that contributed to some struggles on the year.
Womack will have several targets to choose from with names like Abel Cunningham, Chase Hager and Nate Barham, along with Hill out of the backfield.
"Our quarterback is pretty good and our running back is pretty good, so as long as we've got those guys, we'll be all right," Taylor said. "We've got to figure out ways to get other guys involved and get the (defense's) emphasis off Christian. Nate is going to be one of our guys out there and Chase Hager can fly. We need to get them to compliment Christian."
On the other side of the football, the Redskins will be younger than in past seasons, which puts added emphasis on the offense to be the strength of the team.
"Defensively, we'll start probably three or four seniors and a lot of sophomores will have to play this year," Taylor said.
Especially in the MSAC, Taylor said those players will have to learn quickly.
Taylor is excited to see the type of development they see under defensive coordinator, who is essentially another head coach on the field for the Redskins.
"Our defensive coordinator -Coach Jason Pratt - can take anybody within reason and train them to get to the ball," Taylor said. "That's his big thing - run to the football and do your job."
One player who Taylor said will have to lead the young Redskins defense is Bomani Brooks, a talented defensive end who is also getting some looks from Division I schools.
"He's getting a lot of looks and will probably go somewhere FCS, I'd say," Taylor said. "He's a really good player and he dominated in the camps he went to."
The linebacking corps is part of the youth movement with sophomore Brogan Brown likely to be manning one spot.
"You can see in those younger classes, those kids follow him," Taylor said. "He's got a lot of talent and leadership about him."
In the secondary, John Porter returns as a three-year starter who will provide leadership and communication on the back end of the defense. Porter returns after missing time due to injury in 2018.
While the starting group is solid, Taylor said depth is a definite concern on both sides of the ball due to numbers.
"We'll have a lot of seniors starting, but behind those guys are freshmen, so we're one or two injuries away from it getting tough," Taylor said. "We've got to keep guys healthy."
Location: Hurricane, W.Va.
Classification: Class AAA
Stadium: Redskins Stadium
2018 record: 5-6
2019 Hurricane football schedule
Aug. 30 Winfield
Sept. 6 Spring Valley
Sept. 13 Capital
Sept. 20 at Cabell Midland
Sept. 27 at Woodrow Wilson
Oct. 4 at George Washington
Oct. 11 Huntington
Oct. 18 at Parkersburg
Oct. 25 at South Charleston
Nov. 8 St. Albans