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Local high school teams return to gridiron

From Staff Reports

Woodland QBs will share

One of the formulas employed by Woodland head coach Scott Schmitt within the fabric of the Wolfpack's near-run to the playoffs last season will be used again: two quarterbacks, alternating series as their skill-set is required.

Last season, when the Wolfpack went 5-5 and were left out of the playoffs because of a tiebreaker, senior Ray Lewis and sophomore Brett Vance shared duties. Lewis provided more athleticism. Vance was a more conventional passer.

Vance returns as a junior, a veteran of sorts now, but will again share duties, this time with sophomore David Williams.

"(David) adds a different dimension back there," Schmitt said. "He's fast. He can throw a football. He just does a lot of things at that position. But Brett does a lot of things, too. He's got a strong arm."

- Brian Paglia

Eagle's Landing Changing Speeds

With a quarterback nicknamed "Jet," a myriad of talented skill position players and a new liberating offense last season, Eagle's Landing thrived in exploding for big plays and quick scores.

Maybe not this season, though.

Breaking in possibly two new sophomore quarterbacks, Golden Eagles coach Joe Teknipp hopes their transition can be eased with an augmented running game and strong defense.

That means longer drives; more plodding than the fireworks of last season.

"It'll be a little bit different for us this year," Teknipp said. "We're trying to control ballgames rather than trying to spread it out. Instead of making big plays, we want to make big drives."

- Brian Paglia

Mundy's Mill jumps into 2009 without looking back

At Mundy's Mill High School, new head coach Peniel Dany has one primary goal in mind: wipe away the specter of last season's 0-10 record.

Dany, who has come into his first head coaching gig after serving as defensive coordinator to Rodney Hackney's 10-2 North Clayton Eagles in 2008, is pleased with the progress his Tigers have made since he took over the team last spring.

"The first day is going better than expected," he said. "They're more conditioned and more focused on the progress at hand."

Most importantly, Dany has been impressed with the development of his squad's level of discipline.

Any time, a new head coach comes to a new school with a new system to implement, he is bound to be met with the stubborn turbulence of heavy heels.

According to Dany, the transition has been relatively smooth for him.

"These guys are tired of not winning, so it's been easy for me to come in," he said. "Of course, some players may have doubts and we had to get rid of some old attitudes, but I'm focusing on those that want to win."

No learning curve for Clayton's newest team

For the second time in his head coaching career, Jarrett Laws has taken a new collection of young athletes under his wing to form a new program with a new tradition at Charles R. Drew.

Despite the tough work it takes to train a group of rising freshmen and sophomores into a varsity-level team, Laws is still quick to crack jokes about his team's progress.

"If we can do a little better, we'll be a sorry football team," he laughed.

As is his nature, with every joke, Laws is ready to follow with praise for his squad.

"They understand the dynamics of competing, that's the most important thing I think they've grasped," he said. "I think that gives us a strong base to build a program on."

Laws' Titans are going to need that strength sooner than most.

While the majority of teams in the Southern Crescent will be preparing to open the season in four week, along with a scrimmage in three, Charles R. Drew will play its scrimmage in just 10 days when the Titans travel to East Jackson High School to face a three-year old varsity program that Laws hopes will give his squad an idea of what they are building towards.

"A lot of eyes are going to get as big as quarters when they find out what true competition is, but the baby has to leave the nest sometime," he said. "I'd rather get them culture-shocked about the seriousness of football instead of giving them a false sense of confidence for four week."

-From Zack Huffman

Numbers game at Henry County: When the Henry County Warhakws conducted their first official practice Monday afternoon in shorts and helmets, head coach Mike Rozier welcomed 60 players out to the gridirion.

Those number could increase when freshman join practice next week

"I do it a little bit different, freshman don't come out until after a week of school, Rozier said. "It give them time to get adiusted to school.

The Warhawks open the season looking for their third-straight region title, but going into the season, Henry County must replace 24 seniors.

"There are some big question marks and a lot of shoes that have to be filled," he said. "We started some tradition last year, and our guys want to continue that. We have only nine seniors, so we are going to have to grow up fast."

Quarterback hunt: Drew Little rewrote the record books at Henry County. He's gone off to Georgia State now and a three-person quarterback hunt has been created. Two seniors, Eagle's Landing transfer Dylan Shaddix, and Ola transfer Andrew Brunnard are battling it out to be the starter. Sophomore Chris Moody is called "the quarterback of the future" and is also in the mix.

Even if Shaddix doesn't win the starting role as the team's quarterback, he has no doubt secured the punting job. During special teams drills on Monday, Shaddix was booming his punts.

"He could really be a weapon for us," Rozier said.

Sign of relief: It's only a verbal committment, but Rozier is glad Markieth Ambles has gone ahead and announced his desire to attend Tennessee.

"It takes a load off of his shoulders," Rozier said. "It allows him to enjoy is senior year and concentrate on the season.

Ambles will be the teams "go-to-guy." once the season opens.

"We are going to do every thing we can to get the ball to him," Rozier said.

Clarification: A story in the Daily over the weekend confussed some of our readers. ELCA is getting new grass for its football field, not artificial turf.

-From Doug Gorman