Lions look to open up offense
There was a lot to learn for the H.W. Byers Lions during spring football practice.
In addition to some key returnees from last season, coach Chris Daniels will be depending on a few freshmen to contribute greatly in 2019.
“We had good days and bad days (in the spring),” he said, “but the kids were very receptive.
“I’m sure we gave them too much to soak in on certain days, while getting things implemented, but they came out and worked hard every day, and that’s all you ask.”
The Lions hosted a jamboree but after having to reschedule it due to rain, they could not participate due to other end-of-the-year school activities.
Daniels, who will enter his seventh season as head coach, said he will most likely go with a freshman, Michael James, at quarterback.
“We’re easing him (James) into it,” he said. “If you put a ninth grader out there, you sort of have to grow with him.
“We have to find his strengths and weaknesses on the high school level. His strengths at the junior high level might not be the same at the high school level.
“The game changes so much from middle school to high school.”
Additional freshmen will also likely have starting roles, including spots in the offensive and defensive lines.
“We have to get them all stronger this summer,” Daniels said.
He does expect a more balanced offensive attack in 2019, with improvement in the passing game.
“We feel like we can open up the offense some,” Daniels said.
Key returnees on offense include Malik Glover, Julian Moore and Zach Snow.
He expects about 20 to 25 players when school starts in the fall.
This summer the Lions will be in the weight room and taking part in seven-on-seven competition.
“Some of the kids, I won’t see all summer because they have no way to get up here (to the school),” Daniels said, “and a lot of the older kids have summer jobs. But we plan to get in as much work as we can.”
Region 1-1A changes a bit. A newcomer is Baldwyn, moving down from 2A.
“Baldwyn will be Baldwyn,” Daniels said. “They’re always tough.”
Another frontrunner in the district race, he said, will likely be Biggersville, which he called “big and physical.”
Other district opponents are Coldwater, Thrasher, Falkner, Myrtle, Hickory Flat and Ashland.
The Lions will be seeking their first playoff berth since 2014.
“We need to stay injuryfree,” he said. “We have been able to do that the last couple of years. If we can stay healthy, I think we can definitely compete for a playoff spot.”
The Lions kick off the 2019 schedule August 23 at home versus Bluff City (Tenn). Other non-district opponents are Potts Camp at home August 30 and Macon Road (Tenn.) away September 13. September 6 and September 20 are open dates.
The district slate begins September 27 with Coldwater away. Following that date are October 4, Thrasher, home; October 11, Falkner, away; October 18, Myrtle, home; October 24 (Thursday), Baldwyn, away; November 1, Biggersville, home; and November 8, Ashland, home.