HILLCREST: New coach, new offense for Patriots
Thu. August 23, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Jertavious Sanders was an honorable mention All-State selection and led the Patriots’ backfield last season and is back for his junior season. (Photo by Kelly Lambert)
TUSCALOOSA | Scott Martin, who is starting his 20th year as a head coach, arrived at Hillcrest High after the Patriots completed their best season in school history.
Hillcrest went 10-0 in the 2011 regular season, won the Region 5 title with a 7-0 record and went to the third round of the Class 6A playoffs before losing to Hoover.
Adam Winegarden, who coached the Patriots to 21 wins in two seasons, left for Fairhope. Luke Wingo, who accounted for more than 2,700 yards as a senior, is a freshman quarterback at North Alabama.
“There were a lot of great things going on before I got here,” said Martin, who has been in coaching for 27 years, primarily in Louisiana and Alabama. “One great thing is I’m inheriting most of the staff. The additions we brought in on the staff, some of them are guys that have been here before and some of them are new guys that are bringing new life into the program. The thing that probably sticks out the most is our kids already know how to work hard.”
Hillcrest will make the transition from an option attack to more of a spread offense.
“Riley Nix (a junior) is coming in in place of Wingo, who did a great job,” Martin said. “The system that we’re running fits Riley’s strengths. First of all, he’s an excellent field general. You’re only going to be as good as your quarterback in this system. He’s done a really good job of picking up the offense and moving forward with it.
“We worked hard in the spring on being a power football team and not losing the hard-nosed part. I don’t want our kids to lose the hard edge they gained when Coach Winegarden and Coach (Johnny) Wright were here before.”
Junior running back Jertavious Sanders earned honorable mention All-State recognition last season. Charles Bester is a running back along with Kevin Garrett, who moved in from Illinois. Zach Allen and Andrew Grisby are fullbacks.
Receiver candidates are Darnell Webb, Josh Mayhand, Austin Williams, Caleb Campbell and Damien Young.
“When (Sanders) goes in the backfield, we’re utilizing his strengths of being to catch the football as part of our offense,” Martin said.
Zack Gilbert is a probable starter at left offensive tackle. Other line candidates are Ashe Tutwiler, Malik Martin, Chance Redmond, Jacob Morris, Luke Glasscock and Jackson Harris.
“I feel like we’ve got a mix of seven or eight linemen that are going to be able to be in that rotation,” coach Martin said.
Returning starters on defense include linebackers Chris Leslie, D.J. Johnson and Keith Holcombe, defensive tackles Tre Alford and Jamie Hayes and cornerback Jordan Robinson.
Tre Robinson and Shawn Mello are prospects to start at defensive end. Ke’Andre Knox has a chance to play at cornerback, and Keaundra Hutton has been working at safety.
School: Hillcrest High School
Classification: AHSAA Class 6A, Region 5
2011 record: 12-1
2011 playoffs: 2-1
Head coach: Scott Martin (first year at Hillcrest)
Assistant coaches: O.K. Bryant, defensive coordinator/linebackers; Dustin Hatton, defensive ends; Brett Arnold, defensive tackles; Danel Clark, defensive backs; Cameron Stacey, defensive backs; Rodney Bivens, wide receivers; Bradley Costanzo, quarterbacks; Darrell Williams, offensive line; Josh McGill, linebackers/strength and conditioning; George Pratt, defensive backs
Returning starters: 9
Keep an eye on: RB Jertavious Sanders (5-8, 155, Jr.), LB Chris Leslie (6-1, 225, Sr.), DL Tre Alford (6-0, 280, Sr.)
Key games: Sept. 7 at Northridge, Oct. 12 Hoover, Oct. 19 at Tuscaloosa County
Aug. 31 Hartselle
Sept. 7 at Northridge*
Sept. 14 Bessemer City*
Sept. 21 at Hueytown*
Sept. 28 Paul W. Bryant
Oct. 5 Jackson-Olin*
Oct. 12 Hoover*
Oct. 19 at Tuscaloosa County*
Oct. 26 at Minor*
Nov. 1 at Demopolis
* Denotes region game