HALE COUNTY: 'Cats want to tough at line of scrimmage
Wed. August 22, 2012 at 11:00 p.m. | By Barry Allen
Hale County High School head coach Joey Milligan talks with his football team during the Wildcats' second practice of the day on August 10, 2012 in Moundville. (Photo by Betsy Seymour)
MOUNDVILLE | The goal of first-year Hale County coach Joey Milligan is simple — make one yard.
"In our first team meeting, I told our team my philosophy is to be tough enough a team to make a fourth-and-one. Can we do that? We want to be tough on the goal line and have that hard-nosed philosophy that when it's fourth-and-one we will win."
That philosophy begins up front, where the Wildcats average almost 300 pounds across the line of scrimmage with sophomore tackle Jonathan Quartermine, freshman guard Teantre Spence, junior center Tayton Martin, freshman guard Jacob Chandler and junior tackle Nate Mims.
"The offensive line is full of underclassmen," Milligan said. "We are young with a lot of ninth- and 10th-graders. That makes you kind of nervous. They will grow up fast. We are pretty big."
The line will protect a group of veteran skill players who will be called upon to make plays in the Wildcats' offense this season. Senior quarterback Grant Stevens returns, along with senior fullback Charles Yawn and junior tailback C.J. Byrd.
"The kids trust (Stevens) and they look up to him," Milligan said. "He is a leader on and off the field. We want to have good balance running and throwing the football. Yawn needs to carry the ball 15 to 20 times a game. We also have Aaron Sheffield and James Wright, who will be playmakers at the receiver position."
Milligan wants to bring pressure from a defense that returns six starters.
"We will bring pressure and dictate what the offense does," Milligan said. "We want to be active, not reactive. We want hurries and sacks and have our opponent get rid of the ball as quickly as possible."
The four-man front consists of senior defensive end Xavier Cristin, junior defensive tackle Tyler Gilliam, sophomore defensive tackle Jay Payne and sophomore defensive end Danny Coleman.
The linebackers include sophomore outside linebacker Dashawn Johnson, senior middle linebacker Brett Nichols and junior outside linebacker Damien Gee.
"They have a good combination of speed and toughness that you want in a linebacker," Milligan added. "We will depend heavily on the linebackers."
The secondary will be led by senior cornerback DeBryan McCollough, senior safety Justin Wiggins and junior cornerback Freddie Brown.
In developing that mental toughness on the field, Milligan is trying to teach his team about being successful off the field, too.
"My philosophy is we want to build the total football player, the student-athlete," Milligan said. "How are we going to be different? There are a lot of teams doing what we are doing. They meet and practice just like us, so how are we going to be different? We want our measure of success to be not just the scoreboard. If we emphasize that, we will also be a winner on the scoreboard."