JOHN ESSEX: Hornets adjusting offense to fit talent
Wed. August 22, 2012 at 10:00 p.m. | By Andrew Carroll
John Essex linemen Jarvis Edwards (left) and Cintrell Scott work on blocking during afternoon practice. (Photo by Michael Clements)
DEMOPOLIS | During the 2011 football season, Demarcus Bennett matched an AHSAA record that will never be broken.
Bennett, who is back for his junior season with the John Essex Hornets, scored on a 99-yard run against Sumter Central.
John Essex coach Jerome Antone has changed the offense to take advantage of the talents of Bennett and fullback Markeise Tucker. Antone said offensive coordinator Brad Daniels put in the wing-T system, and the Hornets had some success with it in the spring.
"We definitely have the quickness to run the offense," Antone said. "We're not going to be able to line up and knock people off the ball. We think that all of our backs are a real threat."
Antone said Tucker gained more than 650 yards last season.
"Whatever the defense gives us, that's what we're going to run," Antone said.
"Our team strength is that we have six starters coming back, but we really need some additional kids. We've had no more than 15 ballplayers every year I've been here. It's been an uphill battle, and it's no different this year.
"We can't do a lot of hitting in practice, so we basically try to work hard on conditioning. We're doing a lot of teaching. I tell them that if they play hard the winning eventually will come. We've been able to win close to five games every year. That's a feat in itself against the competition we play."
Cedric Cook, a junior who's a point guard for the basketball team, will be the quarterback.
"He's got to be able to read the defense," Antone said. "As he goes, we will go. He's strong, and he's got great speed and instincts."
Other candidates for the backfield spots are Emanuel Essex, Antwaine Gracie and Lushawn Collier. DeAndre Jones will be a wide receiver, and Jaylon Worthy will be involved in the passing game as a tight end.
Probable starters on the offensive line are center Jarvis Edwards, guards Arthur Allen and Boris Moody and tackles Cintrell Scott and DeAndre Brown.
Bennett will start on defense as a linebacker or safety. Cook will see action at safety with Tucker and Allen at linebacker. Antone said Worthy could be a defensive end or a linebacker.
"Defensively, we're going to have to mix things up and send the blitzers from different angles," Antone said.
"Hopefully, they'll get there. We're going to have to be very aggressive and get after some folks."
School: John Essex
Classification: AHSAA Class 1A, Region 1
2011 record: 4-6
2011 playoffs: none
Head coach: Jerome Antone (third year at John Essex)
Assistant coaches: Brad Daniels, offensive coordinator; Joseph Gillions, offensive line/defensive line/strength and conditioning
Returning starters: 6
Keep an eye on: TB/DB Demarcus Bennett (5-9, 160, Jr.), FB/L Markeise Tucker (5-9, 170, Jr.), OG/LB Arthur Allen (5-9, 165, Sr.)
Key games: Sept. 21 at St. Luke's, Oct. 12 at A.L. Johnson, Oct. 19 Linden