Cougars looks to better season
There was a hint of cautious optimism in Copper Basin head football coach Pat Daley’s tone as he assessed the upcoming 2012 football season.
by Danny Rogers
“We have looked good in two pre-season scrimmages,” Daley said. “We played Oliver Springs and Tellico and soundly defeated both of them. We have 17 players coming back from last year’s squad and they were the core group from last year.”
Daley said the Cougars only lost 3 seniors via graduation and with 18 new players, the 35-man squad would provide more depth than last year. Last year Basin only had 23 players on the team, and late season injuries really took a toll. But although the Cougars will be better off depth-wise Daley pointed out that many of the backups don’t have lot of experience.
“We have 12 freshmen on this team so we have a number of people who haven’t played a lot, and of course, injuries could really hurt us again,” commented Daley. Two injuries to promising players have already taken their toll. Ryan Brooks, a backup quarterback, and Bristol Ray, who had looked good in the offensive line, have been lost for an indefinite period of time due to injuries. Overall though, Daley feels that this team has potential and can be successful if they can stay healthy. An obstacle to that success is the tough schedule Basin will be facing this year. In addition to the teams in the district such as Lookout Valley, Boyd Buchanan, Silverdale Academy and Grace Academy, the Cougars will be tackling state-ranked teams from last year when they take on Sunbright and Eagleville.
On offense Basin will line up with senior Dylan Boggs at quarterback. “Dylan has been in the Team Leader group for seven years now, is a slashing runner and good passer.” He will be backed up by freshman Tyler Miller. Junior Denzel Brown will start at running back, and will provide quickness for the Cougars. Freshman Jackson Ledford will be Brown’s backup.
The slot backs, who are hybrid running back-receivers in Daley’s offense, will be junior Justin Vazquez and senior Brice Nicholson, and will be backed up by sophomore Quantavious Brown. The wide receivers will be Aaron English, a sophomore who earned a starting position as a freshman and will be Basin’s possession receiver, and senior Steven Spargo, Basin’s deep threat who caught 39 passes last year for 629 yards and 8 touchdowns. “The offensive line will be anchored by senior strong guard Levi Franklin who has been in the Team Leader group for 4 years and has a coaches understanding of what we do,” stated Daley. Daniel Brooks, a junior, will be the strong tackle.
According to Daley, Brooks is a solid performer and is one of the strongest players on the squad. Junior Dylan O’Neal will be the starting center and although smallish is very strong according to Daley. Junior Dakota Sosebee, an very instinctive player who does things naturally will be the weak guard, while senior Elijah Deal who Daley says has the potential to be one of the best to ever play at Basin will be the weak tackle.
Defensive coach Rusty Boggs stated that the strength of the defense is speed to the ball. “They get to the ball very quickly,” Boggs stated. “But our main weakness is inexperience.” Boggs defense will feature Elijah Deal at nose with Daniel Brooks as his backup; Levi Franklin strong tackle with his backup being junior Trent Raper; and weak tackle senior Chris Phelan backed up by freshman Isaac Akins. Boggs indicated that these players would be rotated regularly to keep them fresh. “We really don’t consider any of these guys starters, they will be rotated in and out,” Boggs commented. He also said that the defensive line is the strength of this year’s team. Also on the defensive side of the ball will be middle linebacker Dakota Sosebee backed up by Dylan O’Neal, weak linebacker Quantavious Brown with senior Colin Thomas backing him up and strong linebacker Dylan Boggs.
The defensive secondary will consist of corners Brice Nicholson and Aaron English who will be backed up by senior Aaron Dotson and junior Trevor Jones. The safety will be Denzel Brown who will be backed up by Jackson Ledford. The outside backers are slated to be Steven Spargo and Justin Vazquez who will be backed up by freshmen Caleb Deal and Zach Banks. The punting will be handled by Levi Franklin while place-kicking duties will go to Brice Nicholson. Daley is assisted by the aforementioned Boggs as well as Todd Rollins, Zane Franklin, Chuck Hedden, John Spargo, and Daren Waters.
Several new things have been introduced into the Cougar football program this year according to Daley. There is a junior varsity team which will be playing a seven game schedule and 18 or 19 players on the high school squad will be playing junior varsity. Also, a middle school program has been started to provide a feeder for the high school program.
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