“We had a great team of guys who really came together and bonded together to do something that hadn’t been done in over 40 years at West Alabama, which was to win 10 or more games,” Gilliland said. “I think 1975 was the last time that had occurred.
“As with every year, if you’re not the last team to win the last game, there’s some disappointment there,” he continued. “We would have liked to have seen it stretch out two more games, but that’s over and done with. We’re just trying to build upon that now.”
The 2018 college football season is fast approaching, and Alabama NewsCenter is continuing its tour of programs across the state. Next up is West Alabama.
Alabama NewsCenter: What is the outlook for this season?
Brett Gilliland: The goal this year … is to raise our standard, to try to take that next step. That’s a daunting task. We lost over 20 seniors from last year’s team. We feel really good with who we’ve replaced them with, but a lot of those guys are un-battle-tested. Right now, we feel good about them, but we have to see how it pans out, how our team bonds together and handles adversity.
ANC: What is your team’s strength?
Gilliland: We have some really strong leaders coming back that can carry the torch and show some of the new guys the way we do things. Leading the offense is Harry Satterwhite, who was the Small College Player of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. And on defense, Terry Samuel was the defensive player of the year in the conference last year. Both of those guys were team captains last year, so we’re excited to have a nucleus of good leaders. I think defense is looking to be a strength of the team. With a quarterback like Harry and how we feel about the rest of our offensive players around him, we feel we’ll be able to move the ball.
ANC: Who are your team’s standouts?
Gilliland: Based off of last year, it would be Harry Satterwhite; Qua Boyd at tight end, who caught 53 passes last year; (and) Call Dyer and Brandon Anderson, our two returning starters from the offensive line who have done a great job for us. We’ve got a deep backfield that we feel good about and a lot of new receivers. We don’t know who’s going to rise to the top of that group yet. Terry Samuel, obviously, is the heartbeat of our defense. Up front, we’ve got Dakota Rushing, Darius Ellis (and) Jordan Jones. Those guys anchor our defensive front. We’re looking for big things out of them.
ANC: What game do your fans have circled on your schedule?
Gilliland: Our fans love our rivalry with Delta State. That’s a big one with our fans. Obviously, West Florida, with what they did last year and where they’re ranked to start the season (first in the conference), I’m sure our fans have that circled. It’s our last regular-season game. West Georgia and Valdosta are always huge games against really good teams. Any conference game has a chance to be a fan favorite.
ANC: What is your lingering question?
Gilliland: How will these guys who are having to step into roles grow and develop? We feel good about some guys, but there are some who are not battle tested. Until the lights come on and we get them out in these GSC football games, there are still some unknowns there.