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Hope real for SF; Fulton misses QB

Hope real for SF; Fulton misses QB
For decidedly-different reasons, both South Fulton and Fulton City can’t wait for the 2008 high school football season to get started.
The Red Devils, seeking to restore respectability to a once-proud program and rebound from back-to-back one-win seasons, showed signs of promise in that venture by dominating Reidland (Ky.) 21-0 in the annual Ken-Tenn Jamboree Friday night at Fulton’s Memorial Field.
Fulton City, meanwhile, will welcome starting quarterback Aaron Wilson back to practice this week in preparation for the coming campaign, his absence well-noted after the Bulldogs were manhandled by Gleason 35-0 in the final half of play of the night.
The annual scrimmage-type jamboree that included eight teams in all, signaled the unofficial end of the preseason for most clubs, including both SF and Fulton City.
Both will open their ’08 campaigns with the same opponent — West Carroll — a week apart.
The Red Devils will play host to WC in Tennessee’s Week 0 this Friday, while the Bulldogs host the War Eagles Aug. 29, the first night prep teams in Kentucky may begin their seasons.
South Fulton will be looking to build on a positive preseason under first-year head coach Kelly Spivey, who seemingly has overhauled everything from attitude to expectations of a program that has won just nine games in the past four seasons.
The Redmen — though small in numbers roster-wise — completely controlled their 60-minute session with the Greyhounds on both sides of the ball.
Showing new-found passion and considerably-better execution, signs of hope for SF to shed its recent reputation gained as a “whipping boy” for opponents in recent years were everywhere.
“I saw some good signs,” Spivey said afterward. “When you’ve not had a lot of success, I think any time you can — whether it’s in a scrimmage, a jamboree or whatever — it’s good in helping change the mental attitude. You try to build on any momentum you can, and I think this is something we can build on.”
In Fulton City’s case, not having Wilson — sitting out due to a Kentucky state rule that says he must have five days of conditioning and five more of practice in pads before competing in scrimmage work — obviously leaves a huge void in anything and everything the Bulldogs do on both sides of the ball.
“We’re obviously not where we need to be anyway, and when you take somebody out of your lineup on both sides of the ball of his caliber, as well as a couple of other kids we were missing, this is what you’re going to get,” Bulldog assistant coach and defensive coordinator Mike Thomas said as the clock wound down on Fulton City.
Wilson, who directed the Bulldogs to a 9-2 finish last season including a stunning upset of perennial First District kingpin Mayfield, has been benched because he was competing in an AAU basketball tournament in Florida up until last week and had not been available to practice football. Thomas said he’d be cleared to participate in all drills starting today.
The following is a recap of Friday’s action.
South Fulton 21, Reidland 0
Jonathan Avent ran for a 60-yard touchdown and had another score brought back via penalty, Jared Fowler barreled his way for a 16-yard TD, and Holden McConnell scored from three yards out for SF, which threatened on two other occasions and forced three Greyhound turnovers.
Successfully attacking the flanks on toss and jet sweeps, and occasionally gashing the middle with fullback runs, the Devils accumulated 239 total yards.
Avent rushed for more than 100 and could’ve had more if not for a block-in-the-back penalty that negated a second long scoring jaunt.
In all, South Fulton had 10 plays that picked up 10 or more yards.
Defensively, the Redmen consistently swarmed the ball, led by linebacker Skylar Cherry, who recovered a fumble, caused another with a big hit and thwarted Reidland’s only serious threat with an interception. Devon Hutchins also had a fumble recovery for a South Fulton defense that surrendered less than 90 yards.
“One of the things we’ve stressed since I’ve taken this job is believing,” Spivey said. “I ask them all the time ‘Do you believe?’
“I think any time you have success in things you’re trying to implement that are different from before, it causes people to believe in you and your system.“
Gleason 35, Fulton City 0
In a battle of two of the smallest football-playing schools in their respective states and clubs with a shared Bulldog nickname, Gleason was clearly the better team and, in truth, the best of any of the eight in the jamboree.
Quarterback Zack Wallace and running back Cody Ezell were among those to shine for Gleason, which consistently ran past Fulton City defenders.
For FC, running back/safety Jacquise Lockett showed promise on both sides of the ball before leaving the action late.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.