Indians return defense, rebuilding on offense

By SCOTTY NICHOLS
Sports Editor

The Itawamba AHS Indians just completed an 8-3 season, following a first-

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM Departing IAHS senior wide receiver Caleb Whittle has amassed more than 2,500 receiving yards and scored 28 total touchdowns during his tenure as an Indian.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
Departing IAHS senior wide receiver Caleb Whittle has amassed more than 2,500 receiving yards and scored 28 total touchdowns during his tenure as an Indian.

round class 4A playoff loss on the road to a very talented Senatobia Warrior squad.

As the 2016 campaign comes to a close, eyes are already being focused on 2016.

“We will lose a bunch of guys that, obviously, we would like to have back for another year,” said head coach Clint Hoots, “but we have a solid nucleus returning, so we’re excited about that.”

The bulk of that nucleus will be on the defensive side of the ball, as rising senior middle linebacker Jamal Shumpert will return to lead what could be a very stingy defense.

Shumpert has tallied well over 100 tackles in both his sophomore and junior seasons, and will look to splurge into triple-digits for the third consecutive year in 2017.

Joining Shumpert on the defense will be linebackers Krayshawn Middlebrook and Channing Caygle, who both had solid 2016 seasons.
Noah Collum, Vince Hughes and Noah Dill should anchor what will be a very experienced defensive front, that also sports good size and quickness.
Corey Mallory will return experience in the secondary and will also compete for snaps at quarterback on offense.

Offensively, the Indians will return almost everyone who logged significant carries out of the backfield, as rising junior Lamarcus Rhodes and upcoming senior Chris Chandler look to lead the way.

Rhodes led the Indians with more than 170 carries for, roughly, 1,000 yards and four touchdowns, while Chandler could also vie for quarterback snaps next season.

Shumpert will almost certainly see a decent share of carries, especially in short-yardage situations or on the goal line. Rising sophomore Isiah Chandler also looked good in limited time this season, and could be in line for significant carries.

The Indians lose their top two wide receivers and three of their top four pass catchers.

Playmaker Caleb Whittle, who totaled more than 2,500 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns during his career, will be lost to graduation, as well as fellow wideout Jaden Smith, who finished with five touchdowns on 17 grabs for 331 yards.

Tight end Russell Bunch, who was a solid safety valve, will also be gone.
Lane Domino, who finished the season with 16 catches for 258 yards and two touchdowns, will be the most experienced returning receiver, while Mylon “Lite Brite” Harris showed flashes of big-play ability as a sophomore in 2016.

Three candidates seem to be in line to replace senior quarterback Austin King, including Mallory, Chandler and Jaxon Orr.

King threw for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, while rushing for more than 700 yards and added four more touchdowns on the ground.

The biggest question mark will be along the offensive line, where the Indians lose eight seniors who saw varsity playing time this season, including 6’7″ 300-plus pound Cameron Orr.

The Indians will also lose Bunch, their punter, and Thomas Cox, their long snapper.

Returning, on special teams, will be kicker Skylar Grissom, who drilled 37 of 41 extra points and four field goals this season.

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: @ScotNic24

About Scotty Nichols

Graduate of THE University of Mississippi. #HottyToddy. I like sports. And BBQ.

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