Lions poised to introduce latest product
Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 12:00 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
Keith Hodge believes spring practice is all about discovering the identity of your team.
The Dresden head coach looks forward to his squad introducing itself in a couple of months.
The Lions closed out their 2013 spring drills with their second scrimmage of the practice period Monday afternoon against Trinity Christian Academy at Bethel’s Wildcat Stadium in McKenzie, giving up five touchdowns while scoring one.
“The spring is where you try to find at what you’re good at and not good at on offense, and that’s what we’ve done,” the head man said following Monday’s scrimmage. “We felt like we got a look at what we can build on in the fall. We just need to get in the weight room this summer, get in a little better shape and be more physical up front on offense.”
The scrimmage was moved up a day because TCA quarterback Kyle Akin is the goalkeeper for the soccer team, which will be participating in the Class A-AA State Tournament this week in Murfreesboro. Akin played in the scrimmage, wearing a red jersey marking him as “off limits” to hits.
There were plenty of hits to go around, though.
While Dresden forced four turnovers on TCA’s first two possessions — the format used was a combination of 10-play and down-and-distance — the Jackson bunch got in the end zone on three pass plays, a rush attempt and an interception for a pick six.
Torres Washington scored Dresden’s only TD, a three-yard burst up the middle on the Lions’ second offensive possession.
Colter Swafford looked good in the offense, his play highlighted by a 40-yard run on his team’s second offensive snap of the afternoon.
The two teams also got into a little shoving match during Dresden’s third offensive series. The situation was quickly resolved by both coaching staffs, but it appeared to fire up the TCA defense, which immediately followed up with consecutive sacks on Lions’ quarterback Tyler Hutcherson.
Led by Swafford, Washington, Hutcherson and Kyle Williams, the “skill” positions on offense seem to be in good shape. Up front, however, the Lions graduated a large group and will need plenty of new starters to develop quickly.
“We’re almost brand new up front,” Hodge said. “We have some guys with a little experience, but not much.”
A staple in the team’s recent success has been defense, and Hodge is excited about that side of the ball again following a solid overall output in the spring.
“I really like where we’re at defensively,” the coach said. “In our two scrimmages, the full starting defense has only been out there together for two series, and the reason for that is we’re trying to build some depth. We’re trying to figure who can hit and who can help us out. That was something we really focused on in the spring — building depth and finding people who could help us out.”
Hodge pointed out Alex Warren and Blake Stoker as well as the playmakers from last season as performing well in the spring.
While Monday’s scrimmage outcome doesn’t reflect it, Hodge was pleased with his team’s overall development in the spring drills.
“Overall, I thought it was a pretty good spring,” he said. “You’re going to look a little rusty coming off the long winter break, but early on, I thought our kids came out really aggressive and ready to hit. We had some turnovers in our two scrimmages, and we have to correct that, but it’s been a good spring overall … as good as any we’ve had.”
The Lions will go into the 2013 season fresh off a second straight late run through the playoffs. Ranked No. 1 in the state late in the regular season, Dresden went on to advance to the Class 2A state semifinals following up on the state title game trip in 2011.
Hodge also expects the incoming freshman class, which posted an 8-0 record in middle school last year, to not only provide more depth to the roster but also give legitimate challenges for playing time on Friday nights.
“I think the freshmen can come in and compete,” Hodge said. “We have some skills guys who, hopefully, can push some of these older guys for playing time and build some depth, which is what you want from guys coming up. We’ll see of they have work ethic we need. We look forward to it.”
After the unmatched success of the last two years, there’s plenty of Lions’ faithful looking forward to the 2013 season.
The Lions will open their season Aug. 23 against Westview at UT Martin and then travel to Trenton on Aug. 30.
Two home games follow — Sept. 6 against McKenzie and Sept. 13 against Obion Couny Central.
A pattern then finishes the season as Dresden travels to Bruceton Sept. 20, hosts Union City Sept. 27, travels to West Carroll Oct. 4, hosts Fayette Academy Oct. 10, visits Gleason Oct. 18 and closes the season at home against Huntingdon on Nov. 1.
The team’s open date is set for Oct. 25.
Dresden reached the Class 2A state chmpionship game in 2011, falling to Friendship Christian in Cookeville, and then reached the semifinals last season only to lose at home to Adamsville.
Published in The WCP 5.21.13