By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Editor’s note: Here’s the latest in a series of updates on high school football in the area. Our annual preseason football preview will appear in Sunday’s Daily Journal.
By BRANDON SPECK
Ben Ashley knows champion-ship football. After all, he was as assistant coach on South Panola’s 2007 Class 6A state championship team.
In his second season as Falkner’s head coach, Ashley is using the opening weeks of 2012 football practice to instill that kind of attitude in his young team.
“I sit down and look at our team, where we’re at right now and where we were a year ago and I like to think we’re better in about 18 of the 22 positions in terms of athletic ability and strength and conditioning and things,” Ashley said.
Dallas Hill, Deniko Adams, Alex Hill, Trevor Wilson and Dustin McCoy are the team’s only five seniors, but each started on both sides of the ball on last season’s 9-3 squad, with the final loss at Ray Brooks in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.
The Eagles went through their seventh preseason practice on Friday evening.
“We have a lot of things to improve on, but time to improve those things,” sophomore running back Jearmie Lawrence said.
Ashley said he’s optimistic but admits it’s cautious optimism. Of the players on his 31-man roster, 13 are freshmen.
“I really expect big things out of this football team. With that being said, we’re very young, young but talented,” Ashley said. “If those seniors provide the leadership we need, I don’t see any reason we can’t be back in the playoffs.”
HAMILTON gets focused
Hamilton saw a successful 9-3 season end abruptly with last season’s 8-6 opening-round home 2A playoff loss against Simmons.
Now, the team is getting back to basics.
The Lions won’t play in a jamboree, instead using the full three weeks of practice to prepare for Monroe County rival Smithville there on Aug. 17.
“We want to be real comfortable with our base stuff and what we’re going to do,” Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. “We want to be able to execute that pretty well.”
Hamilton is trying to develop some depth alongside offensive and defensive line anchors Jeremy Lindsey and Dominique Dobbs.
Quinshay Heard will take over at quarterback this season. He was in the backfield for last year’s season-opening 42-0 win against Smithville.
“They’ll be ready to go. They were real young last year. They were coming off the tornado. I think they’ll be back to back to a little normalcy,” Weeks said. “I expect it to be a tough football game.”