By Derrick Mahone
Mother Nature would not cooperate with the Mount Zion football team Friday as storms move through the metro Atlanta area as coach Jamie Aull was forced to cancel the team's spring football game.
However, Mount Zion will have little time off as the team reports back to summer workouts in a week.
"We know the other schools will be out there working, so we are only giving them one week off," said Aull, who will be entering his second season as head coach at his alma mater.
In his first season, Aull led the Bulldogs to an 8-3 record and third place finish in Region 4-AAAA, which earned them a playoff spot. Mount Zion lost 33-7 to Westside-Macon in the first round of the playoffs.
Offensively, the Bulldogs return eight starters for the upcoming season, including standout running back Quartterrio Morgan. The rising senior rushed for 1,470 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. He has verbally committed to playing at Georgia Tech starting in 2011.
Aull hasn't named a starter at quarterback for the upcoming season. He said that two players are vying for the spot left vacant by the graduation of three-year starter Jarrell King.
Rising junior Lamont Knox and rising sophomore Montell Buchanon battled during spring drills for the starting role. Aull said the competition will carryover into the summer and could be a week-to-week battle throughout the season.
"As a coach you like the competition," Aull said. "When you get comfortable, you tend to have sloppy play. As long as they compete, nobody gets sloppy. This competition may carry over into the season."
Defensively, the Bulldogs only return two starters, but Aull doesn't seem overly concerned. He said the team has plenty of athletes to plug most of the holes left by graduation. Finding a defensive front will be the key to the team's success on that side of the football.
Although Mount Zion must replace nine defensive starters, Aull is not ready to call this a rebuilding year. He said several players are ready to step into starting roles.
"It is a situation where we still got some quality athletes," Aull said. "It is not like we are rebuilding. It is their time to play. If we get it together up front, we will be OK."
The bi-annual Georgia High School Association re-alignment has the Bulldogs back in a revamped Region 4-AAAA. The 11-team region consists of Banneker, Creekside, Forest Park, Jonesboro, Lovejoy, Morrow, Mundy's Mill, North Clayton, Riverdale and Tri-Cities.
Aull is confident that the team can still make a run for the postseason for the third straight season.
"Personally, I feel we are one of the top four teams in our region," Aull said. "I don't know what order, but we should be in the playoff picture. I'm confident that we will be playoff bound. It is just a matter of how well we play early in the season."