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Spring full of optimism on football field

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Shipley: ‘I was very pleased with what I saw’

By Todd Martin

The SCHS football team hit the field Wednesday for its annual spring game.

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And though there were four players involved with baseball and 10 others out for injuries and other reasons, SCHS Coach Todd Shipley said he was “a little shocked” with what he saw.

“I was very pleased with how the guys came out and played,” he said. “We tried to keep the two teams even, and after I divided them, the A team was very confident, and the B team was a little skeptical. But the B team came out and won, 21-0.”

After struggling through to a 1-10 record last season, the Rockets showed a renewed focus and energy in the spring’s final practice.

“Coming off of last year, there seems to be a different attitude and renewed spirits,” Shipley said. “The guys were really fired up. They don’t want that to happen again.”

Several young players caught the coaches’ eyes, and Shipley said those that played freshman ball last year and moved up will have an impact this season.

“Those guys didn’t look like freshmen any more,” he said. “We had a lot of kids on both sides of the ball stand out.”

With a lot of improvement and players moving up, Shipley said the team looks to be as deep as he has had in a while.

“We have a lot of depth all over the field,” he said. “After a couple of games we could have seven or eight starters for our offensive line, and we have several running backs that looked very strong carrying the ball.”

Shipley noted Darian Dugle and Michael Brooks among those backs, along with Chris Taylor and Brandon Ford.

The biggest area of concern, Shipley said, was in the team’s secondary.

“We lost three starters back there, but while I think we’ll be fine, we’re going to be short on game experience,” he said.

To combat that, the coach said they have moved Quinten Cottrell and Chris Taylor into the secondary. Both started as linebackers last year, but because of the emergence of several younger players, Shipley said he was able to move them to help bolster the secondary.

“”Logan Forrest and Michael Brooks [at linebacker] have both looked so good, we felt we could move [Cottrell and Taylor] back to the secondary,” he said.

A leadership void could have formed while the team waited for it’s emotional spark plug, Nigel Beach, to return from basketball, but Shipley said two players took on that task.

“Justin Hampton and R.J. Beitz took on that role and embraced it while Nigel was out,” Shipley said. “Nigel’s this team’s leader, but with the addition of those two guys, it makes this team stronger. They really took a hold of the team.”

Now, Shipley said, the team will wait for summer workouts.

“Overall, we were very pleased with the work the guys put in over the spring, and I think we’ve laid a good base for the summer and next year,” he said. “We’re just looking forward to getting everybody together after baseball and hitting the summer circuit.”