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Mustangs enter new era in ?03

By Jeffery Armstrong

The Morrow Mustangs will put an interesting football team on the gridiron this season.

The Mustangs will feature 22 seniors, but only five or six will have much varsity playing experience.

"We'll be basically an old, inexperienced team," said new Morrow head football coach Dorwyn Lyles. "How often can people say that about their team?"

Lyles, the first African-American head football coach ever at Morrow, said even though the team is not as experienced as he'd like, he thinks they'll still be competitive.

"The coaching staff is doing an excellent job so far with the players," said Lyles. "They are getting a good response out of them."

Hopefully, that response will lead to improvement on the field in 2003. The Mustangs went 4-6 last season and haven't had a winning season since a 10-2 campaign in 1998. Lyles said his main goal as head coach is to convince the players to put the losing behind them and focus on winning now.

"We need to change the mentality of our players and our community this year," he said. "We're trying to build and develop a program here."

The Mustangs will hope to build upon last season's finish, as they won their last three games of the year (including a forfeit victory over Riverdale). Morrow won convincingly in two of those three games, a 21-12 win over Stockbridge and a 24-10 win over Eagle's Landing.

Leading the way for Morrow will be returning senior quarterback Charles Gates, who became the team's starter at the position in week four last year. Senior Benton Smith returns at the wide receiver position and Dajuan Holmes, a senior, returns at fullback. Junior Lajuan Raines will also split time at receiver and cornerback, senior Calvin Leonard returns at middle linebacker and Holmes will also see some time at outside linebacker.

Junior cornerback Paul Douville will also be counted on to help the Mustangs at the cornerback position.

Once again, Morrow will have its work cut out as it plays in the very tough Region 2-AAAAA. Despite a tough schedule, Lyles feels good about the upcoming season.

"The morale is good around here n the kids, coaches and parents are excited about the season," Lyles said.