As the Columbus South High School football team gathered for its typical two-a-day ritual, a construction crew was hard at work on the Bulldogs' new stadium just a couple of blocks away.

As the Columbus South High School football team gathered for its typical two-a-day ritual, a construction crew was hard at work on the Bulldogs' new stadium just a couple of blocks away.

Bulldozers moved dirt in preparation for the new track surface. The grass looked immaculate and the home bleachers were beginning to take shape.

It's a sight to behold for Devante Sherwood and his teammates who hope the stadium symbolizes a new beginning for a City League-South Division program that has just one win the last two seasons.

"I'm feeling really good this year," said Sherwood, a senior running back. "It's been kind of rough the last couple of years, but we're going to have a home field again. We're just ready to win and if we can do that, hopefully, we can build our numbers."

Along with the new stadium comes a new coach in Felix Catheline, a graduate of Youngstown Ursuline and the College of Wooster, where he was a lineman.

Catheline served as an assistant at Northwestern and Ashland Crestview high schools before coming to South. He was the offensive coordinator last year for coach Will James, who has moved to defensive coordinator this season for the Bulldogs.

"There's excitement because we finally feel like we're turning the corner," said Catheline, whose team will open Friday at Oberlin. "We've had great two-a-days. There are still some bumps in the road, but we feel like we're a better football team than we've been in the past."

South finished 0-10 overall and 0-7 in the City-South last season as Marion-Franklin and Eastmoor each went 6-1 to share the title.

The Bulldogs -- who haven't won an opener since 1995 -- were 1-9 in 2007 and 6-4 in 2006. But there is reason to be optimistic.

South's numbers have grown from 23 last season to 35, which allows Catheline to go two-deep at every position. He's also noted improved attendance for practice and summer conditioning.

The power-I offense will be centered on Sherwood and junior fullback Tony Vaughn (5-foot-11, 245 pounds).

"I'm hoping for 1,000 (yards) this year," Sherwood said. "I've got a nice, solid fullback and a nice line."

Seniors Marvin Floyd (6-0, 260) and Rashad Payton (5-10, 230) are returning starters on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Last year's quarterback, senior Ron Keaton, will move to receiver to join returning starter Leon Hood, a junior. Senior Darius Byrd will take over at quarterback.

"We feel with Ron and Leon at the receiver position and their height, we might be able to get some favorable matchups," Catheline said. "Darius is a mature, smart kid and somebody who I believe we can trust with our offense."

Speed should be South's strength on defense. The 4-2-5 defense will feature Vaughn and sophomore Dylan Brown at linebacker. Sherwood and Keaton return at defensive back.

"We really only have six or seven who qualify as junior varsity players who need to be seasoned," Catheline said. "We really feel like this is going to be a big year as far as getting our program back on track."