Green Hope High had won four of its last 59 football games and none in more than three seasons when coach Kwame Dixon arrived in 2011.
The Falcons are expected to contend for the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference title this year.
The Falcons turnaround started quickly. Green Hope ended a 38-game loss streak by winning its season opener in 2011 against Smithfield-Selma. The Falcons finished 2-9.
Last year, Green Hope went 6-5 in the regular season to earn its first playoff berth since the 2004 club finished 13-2. The Falcons were close to having an eight-win season, dropping league games to Athens Drive, 24-20, and Fuquay-Varina, 21-17.
Dixon illustrates the program still is in the rebuilding stage by citing participation numbers. He wants 55 players on the varsity. He expects to have about 50 this season, up from 42 in 2012.
He wants enough freshmen playing football so that 25-30 will play their senior season, even with some attrition. He’d like to have 70 players on the junior varsity.
“We’re getting there,” he said.
Dixon believes he has more talent this year than in 2012 but doesn’t have nearly the experience. The junior varsity was unbeaten last year, but Dixon said this year’s club needs to learn to play varsity football quickly.
The offense will rely on senior quarterback Chris Tutwiler, who passed for 2,428 yards in 2012. John Nassif (31 catches, 443 yards) is the most experienced receiver, and former backup Demetrice Massenburg is expected to be a primary ball carrier.
Junior Daniel Gretsch, Brice Dixon and Eli Murrane could play prominent roles as runners and receivers on offense.
“We’ve surrounded Chris with better athletes, but we have a lot of learning to do,” Dixon said.
Middle linebacker Ian Callahan anchors the defense alongside Matt Wall. Karsten Green moved from strong safety to linebacker, and Ridge Ford, who was all-conference in 2012 as a freshman, heads the secondary.
“We have enough experience in spots, but we’re going to have to play very fundamental football,” Dixon said. “We have to be patient and move the ball. Chris does a great job keeping his head up and keeping the play alive. We all have to play that way. To keep working at it.”