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August 15, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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t v August l5, 20l8 Page l3 MARY PERSONS 2018 VARSITY FOOTBALL COACHING STAFF: Pictured from left to right on the front row: wide receivers coach David Carey, director of sport performance/line- backers coach Dan Burdette, assistant head coach/defensive line coach Pat Burdette, athletic director/head coach Brian Nelson, defensive backs coach Kip Burdette and running backs coach Delvin Jordan. Pictured from left to right on the back row: athletic trainer Jeff Quinn, outside linebackers coach Tevin Davis, co-ottensive line coach Barron Hamlin, co-ottensive line coach Jarmarcus Johnson, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jason Morrow, 9th grade coach Billy Stephens and 9th grade coach Taylor Williams. (Not pictured: 9th Grade coach Greg Nix and Monroe County Middle School coaches: Austin Lord, Clae Mathis, Lamon McElhaney and Michael Smallwoocl. (Photo/Richard Dumas) PREVIEW Continued from Page 2 Journal-Constitution) and it’s name recognition and getting your program out there. Some of it is promo- tion too.” As for the Region 2-AAAA part of the sched- ule, MP, the three-time de- fending region champion, is undoubtedly the heavy favorite to make it four in a row. The Bulldogs will look to extend their 16—game re- gion winning streak when they open region play at home, against Spalding on Sept. 28. However, Nelson said he expects all of the Dogs’ region opponents to be much improiIed and thinks every Friday will be a serious test with MP playing each week with the figurative bulls—eye on its chest. Nelson said, “That’s the one thing I told those guys about having a lot of people coming back, ‘Everybody is talking about all thepotential you’ve got. But that’s all it is. You’ve still got to play games. You’re not just going to show up and beat some- body. You’re going to have to play.’ And sometimes that’s a dangerous thing. It goes back to how football- crazy and everything this place is. These kids have probably been hearing for six or seven months how good they’re gonna be. Well that eventually gets in it their head.” Nelson said he’s already seen complacency creep into MP’s pre—season practices, and his coaching staff is doing what it can to squash it quickly. “You expect so much more out of them because they are coming back and they’ve all played before,” Nelson said. “But at the same time you’ve got to remember they’re still 17-year-old kids, it’s still freaking hot as hell out there when they’re practic- ing, and there are still little lapses in practice that you don’t want to see. But it’s because of that probably more than it is experi- ence or anything else, and that’s where you’ve gotta get them back revved up again. Last year the lapses in practice, you could at- tribute that to: ‘Well heck, they’re inexperienced. They’ve never played? That’s not a reason any- more. So from an expecta- tion standpoint, you expect the whole practice to be seamless, flawless, but it’s not like that. At times it is, but at other times, it’s like, ‘Shoot, y’all look like y’all have never even played football before.’ ” Offensiver MP is expected to feature once again a single-back, spread look that will rely on a lot ‘ of misdirection in the run- ning game and short, drag routes in the passing game. However, with one of the state’s top receiving corps, w .4. \‘r‘n‘m (are; a a Wimmnnruuonuuonolmcon O 43 Year lmtusrrv Letitia 0 Traditional joinery o Statedahemt CADICAM twhnolagy O Enclth Bola TM“ Log Home Collection .. , “N 9 Restatemenm manlength. vacuumwdfied timhem. up in 40‘ in length , a... mama an ad on at the Timberwriaht at}. one at ~ menthimlma n- we design. deliver. and met absolutely "- extraordinary living’envimmmnta. Thatia mpwttonfi raw-sore ’ Hartage should have more opportunities to push the ball down the field than he did a year ago, and behind a veteran offensive line, Wilson should break more long runs than ever. On defense, MP will again de- ploy a 3-3—5 look with one of the state’s best defen- sive lines leading the way. All three starters along the d-line, ends Daniel Lavelle and Kendrell Watts, and nose tackle Derrick Goodson, should have opportunities to play in college. The biggest holes to fill are up the middle behind Goodson, where two starting linebackers, Bralen Harvey and Iatorian’ Hansford, and two starting safeties, Ladondre Buckner and Tre Slaton, were lost to graduation. ’ “As much as we have coming back, there’s still key spots we’ve got to find people at,” Nelson said. “We’ve got to find more running backs. we’ve got to find two people to replace Slaton and Buck- ner who were two really good safeties and players. And then we don’t have anybody who can replace Hansford. We’ve got bod- ies, but we don’t have an SEC linebacker.” Special teams is another area where MP has an enormous void. All—region placekicker/ punter Alex Rivera departs after a stellar career in which he nailed several game- winning field goals while possessing NFL type range. Both MP’s kicking and punting duties remain up for grabs although long— snapper Walter Ellison and a bevy of talented return men should shore up those aspects of special teams. Nelson said every season MP has relied upon late- game heroics, like Rivera’s winning kicks, to capture key wins, and he said he’s always concerned that the good vibes could turn no matter the amount of experience returning. “I think every year is just so much different from the guys that have left to the leadership dynamic,” Nelson said. “I think it just changes so much that it’s not even that big of a deal ‘ how many guys are com~ ing back or not. I think you just go out there and coach and play and guys have got to perform and we’ve got to play games. There’s been games over the past five or six years where we’ve won but we probably should have lost. You never know when that’s going to flip. Two years ago we made that field goal against Spalding the last play of the game. We made another one against LaGrange. It took an interception against Ups0n-Lee on the one— inch line to beat them here last year. We beat Jackson in double overtime. The (478)992~ "Skirting t" km" Map llama? NH ever ‘1‘ "\ “V lit‘ .‘ci‘ntt ,_. hi.’ I ll first region championship over at West Laurens, they were basically killing us until Dee Gaines probably made one of the biggest plays in the history of Mary Persons football. He intercepts a ball and runs it back 90-something yards. If they score right there, that’s probably game over because they were up 16-7 or something. It’s things like that, different games over the years that we’ve won that we could’ve easily lost.” And even with all the triumphs, there have been some disappointments. MP had a chance to go up by 21 points early at Cartersville in the 2016 semis before a Wilson fumble gave the Purple Hurricanes’ new life. Then in the 2017 semis, the Bulldogs were Within striking distance of Blessed Trinity at halftime before faltering on both sides of the ball in the second half. But just as easily as things can go sideways, perhaps 2018 will be the year where even on the biggest stages everything falls just right. Nelson said he can sense his club could be poised for a breakthrough. “I think we’re right there being talked about in that conversation with those teams now whereas six, seven years ago we weren’t,” Nelson said. “And I don’t know what the formula’s going to be to beat them other than to get back there. You get in those ~ games and it’s just one or two little things, certain things have got to go your way. I think we’re close. I would hopethat we’ll play well this year and see what happens. Just keep working and keep grinding. I think the kids are getting close to where they believe in that and it’s what they want where maybe before it was, ‘I don’t know. Hopefully it will work out.’ I think we’re getting closer. This is prob- ably the crew.” 94° i'. .13.. M n...— AAA. .‘n_ 4;-1 .4.‘ Ann.