JEFFERSON coach Ben Hall hasn’t seen much film on the Dragons’ Thursday scrimmage opponent, West Hall, but does know the Spartans possess a quality defensive line.
And that’s just the challenge his team — replacing five starters on the offensive line — needs this preseason.
“I’m sure those young linemen are anxious,” the second-year head coach said. “They’re just going to have to play within themselves and do what they’ve been asked to do.”
Hall said this “is not an overnight process.”
The Dragons graduated several guys that were mainstays along the offensive front for two years, including Jordan Tyler, Ethan Hix and Eli Griffin. Another lineman from last year, Ethan Garner, has moved to tight end.
Through nearly two weeks of preseason practice, the new-look Jefferson offensive line has had its moments, according to Hall. But there have also been times when the group has looked young and inexperienced.
“And that’s to be expected,” Hall said.
Exactly which combination will start along the offensive front in the season opener is still very much open with as many as nine players in contention for the five spots. That group includes Alex Corbett, Zach Barber, Jackson Bowen, Zach Bowman, Chazz Tillman, Nick Holman, Caleb Chandler, Dontae Wilson and William Norman.
“We have eight or nine guys that are all battling, and we’re still looking for the five to separate themselves,” Hall said.
But having that many players vying for a starting nod “is a good problem to have,” Hall added.
Hall said this new group of linemen certainly has the mentality to develop into a formidable offensive front.
“The most important thing we’ve seen out of our linemen is that they’re aggressive and play hard and they’re coachable,” Hall said. “You put those traits together and you can build a good offensive line.”
The offensive line isn’t the only area where there are some changes.
Jefferson also lost both its backfield starters from 2013 — tailback Isaiah Blake and fullback Tristen Jackson, who rarely left the field. Of course, the team does return senior Sammy Williams, who played part of the year last year. He had an 1,000-yard season in 2012 during the Dragons’ state championship run. Trent Sorrells has gotten carries in the preseason at tailback as has Darrian Hill, while Cole Stancil and Hunter Gatlin have seen action at fullback.
“We have some kids in there that have played,” Hall said. “It’s just a matter of getting the right personnel in there at the right time.”
Jefferson scrimmages at West Hall, which went 6-5 last year, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Dragons open the season Aug. 22 at home against Rabun County.
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