Wildcats Young, But Talented

Calhoun City Head Coach Mike Ray enters his 14th season with the
Wildcats with his youngest team ever, but that doesn’t mean the ‘Cats
aren’t a contender in 2008. “We’re not very consistent right now because of our youth,” Coach Ray
said. “We have a lot of good players. But we’ve got to all get on the
same page.”


By JOEL McNEECE
Calhoun City Head Coach Mike Ray enters his 14th season with the Wildcats with his youngest team ever, but that doesn’t mean the ‘Cats aren’t a contender in 2008.
“We’re not very consistent right now because of our youth,” Coach Ray said. “We have a lot of good players. But we’ve got to all get on the same page.”
The Wildcats’ 35-man roster includes nine seniors and only three juniors. A strong freshman class will be expected to contribute early with five starting on defense.
“We have a lot of talent,” Coach Ray said. “We’ve just got to step up and realize this is high school football.”
In addition to his youngest, the 2008 Wildcats will also be one of Ray’s biggest teams yet at Calhoun City.
“We’re going to be big and pretty physical,” Coach Ray said. “But the maturity level is the question. They’ve got to learn to play every snap. This group got used to taking a lot of breaks in junior high and still winning. They can’t do that at this level.”
While most of the defensive front will consist of freshmen, Coach Ray takes solace in the fact that he returns an experienced secondary to lead the defense. Seniors Brandon Lawrence and Kent Stafford will team up with sophomores Aaron Thompson, De-marius Howard, and Tae Lawrence for a formidable group.
The strength of the team will be on offense where sophomore J.R. Jennings returns at quarterback. Jennings passed for more than 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Senior Jarvis Rounds will start at tailback with freshman fullback Raheem Roberson leading the way.
The offense’s playmaker will be senior Brandon Lawrence, listed among the Clarion Ledger’s top 125 seniors in the state. He will play a variety of positions.
“We’re going to move him around a lot and get the football into his hands,” Coach Ray said.
Lawrence, 5’ 9” and 155 pounds, had more than 1,300 total yards last year, 18 touchdowns, and was among the top defensive backs in the state with 10 interceptions.
“I’m expecting a big year, not just for me but our whole team,” Lawrence said. “I think our young guys will step in and play well. Hard work is the key to success. If the young guys buy into the program and remain focused, we can be very successful.”
The offense has a lot of experience returning in the offensive line with Justin Floyd, T.J. Clanton, Ken Downs, and Alex Petty. A battle is ongoing in practice to determine the fifth starter up front.
The Wildcats will also be helped by the addition of former Charleston head football coach Perry Liles as an assistant.
“Perry brings a lot to the table,” Coach Ray said. “Our strength and conditioning have really improved since he got here. He’s a big asset to our school.”
The Wildcats play in the same region with the state’s top-ranked team in Class 1A – East Webster.
“East Webster is by far the best team in our region with one of the best quarterbacks (Jonathan Banks) in the state,” Coach Ray said. “Vardaman, Smithville, Okolona and us will all be fighting for playoff positions. I think going in we’re all about equal.”
“We’re just going to take it one game at a time and see what happens,” Coach Ray said.
The Wildcats are coming off an 8-3 season last year in which they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
They are ranked in the top 10 in the state in Class 1A in the preseason poll.

Speak Your Mind

* Copy this password:

* Type or paste password here:

49,254 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress