By Stan Veitch/Sports Correspondent
With seven starters returning at linebacker and in the defensive secondary, Southside High needs only to find some defensive linemen to possibly have a very good defense this season.
All three starting linebackers – Hunter Armstrong, Austin Brewer and Dakota Harcrow – are seniors, as is strong safety Austin Winningham.
Good news for Panthers opponents is that Armstrong is finally a senior. He has started – and dominated – since the eighth grade.
Last year, Armstrong had 113 tackles (72 solo) and six sacks while being named Region Defensive MVP and second-team All-State.
Brewer finished with 57 tackles and four sacks last season, while Harcrow had 61 stops and Winningham 37.
“Finding defensive linemen and finding some depth are key,” coach Ron Daugherty said.
The offensive line, meanwhile, has three players who started at different times last year.
Senior Greyson Daugherty is back at quarterback, but coach Daugherty said “we need him at free safety. He’s a selfless player who volunteered to play quarterback last year because of injuries.”
Tristan Shaw, who threw for 253 yards in spot duty last season, could wind up at quarterback if Greyson Daugherty goes back to the defense.
Aleric Williams is back at wingback but “there are a couple of young guys competing to be the other wing.” Williams, who rushed for over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, has committed to play at Auburn University.
Ron Daugherty said he couldn’t predict order of finish for Class 6A, Region 7, because “all of the teams (Albertville, Arab, Brewer, Lee-Huntsville, Scottsboro and Fort Payne) were young last year and I think they’ll all be better.”
Southside won the region last year and Decatur in second round of state playoffs.
Assistant coaches are Charles Nails, Kyle Routon, Jake Nichols, Mike Habyan, Wendell Clark, Paul Hawk, Cody Pylant, Brad Clay, Skylar Nelson and Brian Coker.