HAMMOND GOLDEN BEARS
2A South Region
Coach: Bill Smith (sixth season, 13-37).
Last year: 2-8 overall, 2-7 league.
Last postseason appearance/state title: 1985/none.
Returning starters on offense/defense: 7/7.
Players to watch: WR/DB Pat Coppinger, Sr.; WR/LB Dean Dodson, Sr.; OG/LB Marcus Matthews, Sr.; WR Bobby Kunlo, Jr.; RB/DB B.J. Smoot, Sr.; QB Zach Swope, Sr.
Run with it: Smoot (1,101 yards, four touchdowns) is the county's top returning rusher, and Smith expects him to be even better with the emergence of quarterback Swope (1,069 yards, seven TDs), whose passing should prevent defenses from crowding the line of scrimmage.
Ballcarriers beware: The Golden Bears struggled to stop the run last season, and it will be imperative that junior nose guard Josh Machiz provide stability up front so linebackers Matthews and Dodson won't have to fight through double-teams to get to the ball.
What Smith first looks for in a player: "I want a kid who has determination and the attitude of wanting to get even. I've seen a trend in kids that when things start to go bad, it doesn't motivate them to make it better -- it makes them depressed. I just want a kid when he gets knocked down, just wants to get right back up and get even."