CATEGORY: FOL High School Football
SLOAN PLEASED WITH PROGRESS
By Todd Vinyard
The start of the football season might be eight months away, but Tupelo football coach James Sloan and his team are busy preparing.
Tupelo, which last season surprised the experts by finishing 10-3, concluded spring practice Tuesday. The three weeks of practice are a time to fine tune things prior to fall practice and the season opener Sept. 6 against Louisville at Tupelo High School Stadium.
“I love this time of the year, because we really get to work on some mechanical things like blocking and tackling,” Sloan said. “And if you can’t block or tackle you are not going to win many ball games.”
Blocking shouldn’t be a problem with the return of starters like 1995 Daily Journal All-Area player Mike Hamilton (6-2, 245, sr.). Several new faces will be doing the tackling as no starters return on defense.
“We played a scrimmage game against Water Valley (last Thursday), and I was very pleased with the potential,” Sloan said. “If our players keep working hard this could be an exciting year.”
In the scrimmage game, Tupelo scored three touchdowns to none for Water Valley. It was not an actual game, as neither team punted or kicked off, but still Sloan said he has been seeing some good things.
“Luke McAlpin is throwing the ball well at quarterback, and I really like our offensive line with Mike Hamilton and Henry Hellestine,” Sloan said. “Another lineman who played last year and doesn’t get a lot of credit is Craig Waddle. He is just a tough kid who sells out on every down.”
Sloan is also pleased to report no serious injuries.
Last year defense was a strong point for the Golden Wave. This season much of that experienced unit has graduated. Defensive backs Jason Long and George Roby will be gone and are now planning on attending Samford University in the fall.
The only returning starter from last year’s defense, linebacker Jason Thames, has moved out of state.
“We have got a lot of work to do on that side of the ball,” Sloan said of his defense. “Last year we had starters and back-ups with experience. This year some people need to step up on defense.”
Fall practice will begin either August 5 or 12.