Pictured, kneeling, from left: Braxton Teal, Chris Compton, A.J. McCormick, Brody Samples, Zion Delgado, Case Martin. Standing, from left: Sawyer Sims, Tony Patterson, Brode Edmondson, Spencer Maroney, Avery Carroll, Max Feemster, Logan Edwards.
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Sardis head football coach Gene Hill is glad the 2020 season is well in the rearview mirror. The Lions started out 0-7 before COVID-19 concerns cancelled the remainder of the season.
“Last year was probably the craziest year that I’ve been involved in athletics in 35 or 36 years. The pandemic hit us pretty hard, as it did a lot of other teams around here, especially toward the end of the year.
“Hopefully, everybody can stay free of that situation and get off to a normal year. We’re looking forward to putting that in the past and moving to the future. Three out of our first four games are at home, so that’s a plus for us.”
Back at quarterback is senior Brody Samples.
“Brody is the man in the driver’s seat this year, and we look for great things out of him,” said Hill. “Brody committed to Snead State in baseball, so it tells you what kind of athlete he is and what kind of competitor he is. Brody had to sit out a few games right in the middle of the year, and when you have to make that change in quarterback, it affected us a good bit. I know he’s really looking forward to getting back out on the field.”
Also returning is All-County senior linebacker and four-year starter Logan Edwards, who last season had 49 tackles, including nine for a loss.
“Logan’s been around a good little while, so we’re looking for big things out of him this year,” said Hill. “He’s a great leader for us out of the 12 seniors we have. Most of the linebackers have been playing three years. Back in the secondary position, we’ve got a lot more experience than we did starting out last year, so I would say that would probably be a strength for us.”
Both Samples and Edwards are multi-sport athletes for the Lions.
“You don’t see that much today,” said Hill. “They put a lot of time in, a lot of effort in, a lot of work in the weight room and on the field and in other sports. We’re glad to have both these guys on our team.”
Hill was impressed with the Lions’ offseason performance in the weight room, believing that his players improved their mental toughness as well as physical strength.
“The weight room is where I think you set that tone and find that toughness. It’s trying to get them to go above and beyond what they would normally go. You take that mindset out of the weight room and then apply it to the football field.”
The Lions’ Class 5A, Region 7 competition remains Douglas, Boaz, Guntersville, West Point, Crossville and Fairview.
“Overall, we’ve got a pretty tough region,” said Hill. “From top to bottom, I thought that every team in our region was much improved last year, and I look to that to be the case again this year. There’s some quality coaches and some quality programs.
“You’ve got to start at probably the top with Guntersville. You’ve got a good Fairiew team who won a 5A playoff game or two, and I know they’ve got a lot of guys back. Boaz is going to have a good team again. I think they’ll be in the mix. West Point had a pretty good football team last year. So it’s a tough region week in and week out.”
Staff writer Emma Kirkemier contributed to this article.