New coach leads Devils in summer work

Christopher Suggs, new head football coach at Ashland, said his team is “a work in progress.”

He arrived near the end of May, just in time to talk to athletes before the end of the school year.

“We’re fighting that firstyear battle, which is just a part of it,” he said.

Suggs and the Blue Devils have participated in sevenon-seven competition at Potts Camp in June. Numbers have been limited, he said, due to summer jobs, college programs and other vacations.

“The numbers are not where we want them to be right now, but the kids are working hard,” he said.

“I’ve been without our starting quarterback and some receivers. I’ve had linemen playing receiver (in seven-on-seven) just to get the work in.”

Suggs, 32, comes to Ashland from Oxford, where he was head coach of the eighth grade team. He was the head coach at Coffeeville High School after serving as defensive coordinator at his alma mater. Prior to that, he worked as the line coach at Quitman County.

He replaces Rolandus Cox, who left Ashland to be the linebackers coach at DeSoto Central.

Last year was the first for Ashland and Hickory Flat to field separate teams after playing as a combined Benton County since 2012, when coach Eric Rice started the program. Rice is now the head coach at Columbus.

“Coach Rice and Coach Cox did an excellent job here,” Suggs said. “But a lot of their guys are gone, and now we’re trying to build camaraderie. We have to get them to buy into the program.”

He will be installing a new offense with a lot of motion and misdirection.

“It will be a different looking Ashland,” Suggs said.

He said he feels good about getting the numbers up for the season ahead. Practice starts July 30.

“We will have some guys coming out who have never played football,” he said. “They will have to get used to the weight room and hitting. It will be a complete turnaround for them. But I believe we will be ready to roll come August.”

The Blue Devils will play in a jamboree August 11.

Their season opener will be Friday night, Aug. 17, at home versus Walnut. Other non-district foes to open the season are East Union, Holly Springs and Hickory Flat.

Region 1-1A foes, beginning October 14, are Okolona, Biggersville, Falkner, Thrasher, Smithville, Potts Camp, Tupelo Christian and H.W. Byers.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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