Trojans Enter Season With Lofty Goals

The Bruce Trojans enter the 2008 season with high expectations after
losing only two seniors off a 9-3 team last year that lost in the
second round of the playoffs. “We want to play for a state championship. That’s our goal,”  Bruce Head Coach James Ray said.


By JOEL McNEECE
The Bruce Trojans enter the 2008 season with high expectations after losing only two seniors off a 9-3 team last year that lost in the second round of the playoffs.
“We want to play for a state championship. That’s our goal,”  Bruce Head Coach James Ray said.
“Our focus after last season, when we lost only two seniors, was what can we do to get better? We concentrated on getting stronger and faster over the summer. Once fall practice be-gan we got back to fundamentals, working on technique. We have an experienced team with 13 seniors that are determined to make this season special.”
One of those 13 seniors is the state’s top returning rusher, 6-foot 210-pound Richard Freelon who amassed 2,533 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2007.
“We’ve got a great group of seniors, a great group of guys overall,” Freelon said. “I love the drive of this team, the heart of the Trojans. We want to live up to the tradition here.”
“Richard is a special player,” Coach Ray said. “He’s as good an athlete as you will find, but he also has all the intangibles – character, leadership, heart, determination. He’s extremely humble. He always puts team first.”
Another key cog to the 2008 Trojans will be the new leader under center. Senior Curtis Lyons moved from receiver to quarterback and has progressed rapidly according to Ray.
“We are better right now than we were at any time last season because of Curtis,” Coach Ray said. “He is an incredible athlete, but he’s also incredibly smart. He’s a great runner and he’s worked extremely hard on his passing during the off-season. His leadership is outstanding for our team.”
Lyons is also among the top cornerbacks around. He recorded seven interceptions last year.
Another strength will be the senior-laden offensive line manned by Dustin Carr, Tyler Hall, Danzel Jackson, Marcus Ingram, Jermarion Armstrong, and tight ends Blake Peden,  Jacob Samuel and Marcel Gaston.
“We have a lot of seniors, a great running-back, and a good line,” Carr said. “We’ve got to provide the leadership, set the example for the rest of the team by the way we work everyday and play every play.”
The one weakness is a lack of depth up front.
“We have only five offensive linemen that are really ready to play,” Coach Ray said. “We’re not able to sub out right now like I would prefer. That’s a major concern. We need the younger guys to step up.”
Defensively the Trojans have a few holes up front to fill, but Coach Ray is counting on that leadership from his seniors to help pull it together.
“Without question our strength is our chemistry,” Coach Ray said. “These guys have all been starting for the most part since they were sophomores. They aren’t a fiery, emotional team, but they’re together more than any team I’ve ever been around.”
That chemistry will be tested with another challenging schedule. Bruce plays in Region 2-2A, which Ray calls the best in Class 2A.
“Eupora is going to be tough,” he said. “Ackerman is much improved. Water Valley will be better with more experience, and Coach Embry is a great addition for them. J.Z. is always extremely athletic and capable of beating anybody. I have no doubt it’s the toughest region in the state.”
The Trojans get no easy ones outside of region play with the likes of Class 5A DeSoto Central, Class 4A Center Hill, another contender in Class 2A in Baldwyn, and county rival Vardaman.
“There’s no question it’s going to be a challenge,” Coach Ray said. “We will remain focused on one game at a time, working toward our goal of a region title to set us up with a good seed for the playoffs.”
The Trojans open ranked fourth in the state in Class 2A, first in Northeast Mississippi.

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