By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Glencoe played a lot of youngsters last season, and it showed in a 3-7 record. The Yellow Jackets were 3-3 at the halfway point before dropping their last four games.
The above greenhorns are now a year older and hopefully wiser, however, and head coach Rusty Davis feels that his veterans have a better grasp of what it expected of them both on and off the field.
“We lost a lot of leads in the fourth quarter, and we’re really preaching the idea of finishing to the kids,” said Davis, a 1984 Hokes Bluff High graduate who played quarterback for the Eagles.
“We’ve changed how we do things in the weight room, and if I had to do things over again, that’s probably the first thing I would have done. I think the kids have responded and they’ve bought in and worked very hard over the offseason and the summer.”
Glencoe has some major re-tooling to do on offense, as the Yellow Jackets graduated their starting quarterback, running back and top two receivers.
“We’ll be inexperienced, but I feel that we have the potential to be better in those areas,” said Davis. “Overall, I think we’re a little faster than we were last year.”
Jacob Amberson, who started at split end last season, will assume the quarterback duties. David is pleased with what he’s seen so far from his senior signal-caller.
“Jacob has done everything we’ve asked of him. He’s been very accurate and knows what we want as far as our offense. He comes in every day asking questions and wanting to learn to do things right.”
Amberson will have seniors Noah Huff, Sam Kimbrell and T.J Williams and junior Andrew Massaro and as potential targets in the passing game.
Expected to shoulder a heavy load at running back is senior Cade Alred, who in spot duty last season rushed for over 300 yards. Senior Easton Foreman and junior Hunter Gray will also get some carries.
“Cade has played some since his freshman year,” said Davis. “He’s just got to take that next step, and I think he will.”
By contrast, the offensive line includes seasoned veterans such as seniors Dawson Bass, Seth Gilchrist, Jake Trimm and Bradley Scott (tight end) that Davis sees as the key to the Yellow Jackets’ success on offense.
“That group is what is going to make our engine go,” said Davis. “We weren’t real big in spots last year, and that took its toll in some of them wearing down.”
The teams top two tacklers return in Scott and Huff, who had 91 and 80 tackles, respectively, at linebacker and free safety.
Bass returns to the defensive line, along with Eli Trimm, who had four sacks in 2016.
Massaro, Easton Foreman and Ethan Forman and senior Kaleb Pentecost will join Huff in the defensive secondary. Pentecost will also punt.
Senior Katie Smith will be a two-year starter at kicker.
“Katie’s been consistent and the depth on her kicks have gotten a lot better,” said Davis. “That gives us something else to think about when we get into the red zone.”
Assistant coaches are Richard Johnson, Thomas Harrison, Chance Payne, Skylar Deerman, Jimmy Benson, Jason Gilley, Chase Robertson, Charlie Robertson and Wes Weems.
Davis pointed out the obvious when saying that the path to the Class 3A, Region 5 title goes through defending state champion Piedmont. In addition, three other region foes – Ohatchee, Walter Well-born and Weaver – all made it to the state quarterfinals last season.
“Also, Randolph County’s got everyone back, and Pleasant Valley should be better,” he said. “We’ve got 22 seniors, and something that we’ll have to hang our hat on. They’ll have to step up and play and be leaders for us.”