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June 18, 2019: 7 vs. 7 - South Aiken T-Breds vs. Silver Bluff Bulldogs at Citizen’s Park in Aiken, SC. (Artie Walker, Jr./Special to the Aiken Standard)

It's always welcomed by coaches to have a large senior class of experienced players. The other side of that is the fact that when those players graduate, there's a lot of replacements that need to be made.

That's the situation the Silver Bluff football team is in heading into the 2019 season. The Bulldogs lost 19 seniors from last year's team.

"Those guys are going to be really hard to replace, especially when you lose a lot of guys of that magnitude," head coach De'Angelo Bryant said.

One of the biggest changes will come at the quarterback position. Three-year starter Jamaal Washington graduated and Darius Johnson will be taking over those duties. Johnson is a dynamic athlete who burst on the scene for the Bulldogs last year.

He got a few snaps at quarterback last season early in the year, but was utilized more often at running back and receiver.

Up front Nate Gray will be the anchor of the offensive line at center. He pointed to the athleticism the offense has as the main thing Silver Bluff will benefit from.

"I like the speed we have. I like the sheer athleticism we have," Gray said. "We have a lot of really good athletes that will be able to show what they are capable to do this year."

The youth factor will also weigh in on the defensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs' defense kept them in a lot of games last season. However, much of the leadership from that defense graduated. 

"We'll be playing with a lot of inexperience as well," Bryant said. "We're really going to be relying on a lot of things (our seniors) will be able to do both on and off the field to be able to get these young guys ready."

One of those older leaders will be Donovan Bush. He made 137 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss and four sacks. Bush was one of the players who led the charge for the Bulldogs' fast and furious style of defense.

His running mates Jarvis Brown, who led the team in tackles, Evan Hall and Jamey Bing are all gone, but Bush still feels the defense can have the same mentality.

"I'm looking forward to keeping the same energy as last year," Bush said. "Everyone knows our defense was really fast, so I'd like to maintain that same mentality."

Silver Bluff starts with a bye in Week 0 before taking on two Barnwell County teams — Williston in Week 1 and rival Barnwell in Week 2. Region play gets started on Oct. 4 with a road trip to Saluda.

​Eric Russell is the multimedia editor at the Aiken Standard. Contact him at 803-644-2396.