Depth means everything this year

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 18, 2002

With less than two weeks before the first kickoff in area high school, defense will dominate at some schools, while others rely on a potent offense.

What follows are tidbits on area teams and what you can expect this season.

Selma High School

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Barring injuries, the Saints have a chance to finish at or near the top of their area this season. Jai Miller, the team’s quarterback, has struggled through injuries during his career and has not practiced much this preseason. If Miller is healthy, he can help lead a strong offense of the Saints. If not, the area’s largest school will have to rely 15 returning starters from last year’s 5-5 ream

Southside High School

The goal this season, for the Panthers, is to improve upon a two-win season last year. If experience is any indicator, that shouldn’t be a problem. Southside brings back a number of starters on both sides of the ball. Experience alone should help the Panthers this season. They return all 11 starters from defense and more depth on both sides of the ball. If those returning players don’t improve, don’t expect much from the rest of the team &045;&045; or the win-loss column.

Dallas County High School

The addition of two new coaches may be all the Hornets need this season. Then again, the players will have to improve on last year’s 5-6 record. As with many teams, DCHS returns a total of 15 starters &045;&045; seven on offense and two on defense. Barring offensive turnovers and mistakes not expected from experienced players, the Hornets return key players who will help them fight for a playoff berth.

Keith High School

Nothing is impossible. Not even for Keith High School. They went 4-5 last season, and head coach Harry Crum admits his team made too many mistakes last year. In order to improve, Crum says he’ll simplify his schemes, both on offense and defense. The Keith coach also will rely on Victor Carson, who was switched from offense to defense last year. In one game, Carson ran for 100 yards. This season, Crum wants to leave the talent on the offensive side, even suggesting Carson could run for 1,000 yards by the end of the season.

R.C. Hatch

If nothing is impossible for Keith, it surely isn’t for R.C. Hatch either. The Marion school, known more for its basketball than any other sport, could get off the snide this year, but it will take luck. A new coach, Jamie Abraham, is in place at that school and preseason workouts have been filled with spirit &045;&045; and more players. Maybe Hatch will break its perpetual losing skid this season. Nothing is impossible.

Wilcox Central

This won’t be an easy season for the Jaguars. Along with the loss of Chris Browder, Wilcox Central lost five other players who were recruited by Divison I schools. Head coach Shannon Felder said this could be a rebuilding year for the Jaguars, though he does believe chemistry has helped his team improve. Felder plans to use a lot of players this season, and he’s still looking for leaders. If the Jaguars have anything going for them, it’s an attitude of success. Sometimes, winning 12 games in a season can carry over, no matter who lines up on the defensive line.

Francis Marion

Francis Marion believes it will be a much better team this year &045;&045; for the same reason many other local schools feel that way. Like Dallas County, the Rams return 15 starters. With that kind of experience, head coach Jim Thurman says he’ll break away from tradition this season. In the past, his team has been a run-oriented team. Look for the Rams to spread the field more and score a few more points.

Morgan Academy

The Morgan Academy Senators are used to losing. Last season, they went 4-7, and they don’t expect the same this year. Head coach Robert Gartman has 17 returning starters and he expects his team to use last year’s tough experience to bolster this year’s record. If tradition and Gartman are correct, the Senators have a chance of returning to the top of the AISA this season.

Central Christian Academy

Experience has been the keyword for most of the area schools, and Central Christian won’t be any different. The only problem is, head coach Tad Niblett’s team fall on the other side of the experience column. CCA will have a squad full of underclassmen. Niblett needs leaders. And he needs them fast.

Meadowview Christian School

Meadowview Christian has a long battle ahead of them this year. New head coach Rick Jackson says he’ll do the best with what he has, but even he admits that will be difficult. Meadowview was heavily laden with seniors last year, and it will probably take time before the Trojans can develop that same leadership. Because of the team’s lack of experience, Jackson will rely on Shane Lee, Chip Ferrell and Jason Braswell to lead the Trojans.

Lowndes Academy

Lowndes Academy could have a decent season this year if they stay healthy. They return a somewhat experienced team from last year, and barring any major mishaps have a decent shot at a winning season this year. Last season, Lowndes went 1-9, and lost three of those in the final minute of the game. The hardships that were last year could be the difference in a playoff run for Lowndes.

Wilcox Academy

Wilcox Academy is in the same shape a lot of other teams are in this year they are in the middle of a rebuilding year. After losing most of their position players from last year, it could be a rough season for a team that went 10-3 last season and finished second in Class AA. The Wildcats lost 12 players from last year’s squad &045;&045; seven of them seniors.

Marion Military Institute

Marion Military Institute could surprise everyone this year. The drop from Class AAA to A should give them a chance to be competitive this year. MMI is returning more players this year than any of the years past, which should give them a chance to be competitive.

Other teams might think twice about scheduling them for homecoming after this year.