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FHS backfield not lacking for talent; leaders on defense

Farragut Football 2008: basically a new stadium, basically a new team playing inside.

Head coach Eddie Courtney said his 2008 Admirals represent “probably” the biggest rebuilding job he’s faced since first becoming FHS skipper in 1996. “We lost nine starters on defense, and we lost eight of offense.

“But we had some kids that got playing time last year, and that’s why sometimes you can’t say it’s like a true rebuilding.”

Courtney said depth at runningback is the most encouraging thing to come out of spring practice, which culminated with the annual Blue-Gray Game Saturday, May 17, at a renovated Bill Clabo Field/Farragut Stadium (see page 1). It also included scrimmages at Morristown West and South-Doyle.

“Like runningback, you’re scared to death because you lose a kid like Andre [Sterling, an Ole Miss signee], but we had three runningbacks that had great springs. Montre Hudson, a sophomore, really had a great spring. And then [juniors] Chris Bass, and then Tyler Bradley, those three guys really gave us some good punch in there.”

Junior Lee Van Dyne was a big contributor last season in the backfield, at receiver and on kickoff returns. “He’s versatile enough to play runningback and receiver,” Courtney said. “He has that ability to be special. He’s got to keep working on his strength. Definitely has the speed and movement.”

Though a new starting quarterback must emerge, hopes are high for junior Reese Browning, who took snaps during crunch-time situations last fall.

“Reese is solid, we’re real excited about him,” Courtney said. “Throws the ball real well, he’s got a great arm. A good student of the game, very smart, he’s not going to force things.”

A back-up is still to be found.

Courtney, whose 2007 team won the Region 2-5A title, points to offensive line as “making a lot of progress” after losing four starters.

“We’ve probably got seven or eight kids that are going to compete for those five spots,” he said.

The one starter returning is special, as rising senior guard Will Jackson was a multi-honoree in post-season awards last season.

Former linebacker J.T. Doucette, a senior, is moving to offensive line and likely will start at center.

Defensively, “They really have come together in a short period of time,” Courtney said. “I credit having several of those kids getting all that playing time last year.

“You take the leadership ability of Derek Harper [senior defensive end] and Trevoris Bogan [senior in secondary], those two guys especially, and then [senior] Austin Bolen’s helped, he’s playing linebacker as well as tight-end for us,” Courtney added. “That’s really been a plus.”

Senior Jonathan Moskal will switch between cornerback and “Admiral Bandit” or outside linebacker.

Linebacking was the area that impressed Courtney the most during spring. “We got a great spring out of Brooks Harper, a sophomore, and we moved Terry Wheatley [to linebacker],” he said. “Alex Encarnacion [senior] can play inside or outside.”

“The next thing was, looking in the secondary, we feel like we’ve built some depth back there,” Courtney added.

On the defensive line, “We moved Danny Vest down there, and he had a great spring,” Courtney said. “We’ve got Scott Vance [junior]. ... And then [junior] Greg Grieco, our nose guard.”

As for punting, placekicking and kickoffs, Courtney said “four guys are out there competing, all had a pretty solid spring.”

Overall, “I think the biggest thing we liked about spring practice was that we felt like we were very productive team-wise,” Courtney said.

“We have a lot of competition, kids have stepped it up, pushing each other. I think that’ll carry us through the summer workout program, ’cause a lot of kids know they have a chance to get on the field and play next year.”


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