(Franklin) — The 2013 edition of the HCMS Braves looks to be an exciting football team. Even though they are returning only seven players who saw significant playing time last year, the coaches are excited about the potential that this group of Braves possess.
Among those that are returning this year are Jaden Moreland, Kendaz Goode, Christopher Goode, Luis Vasquez, Matt Nilsen and Carlton White. These guys have demonstrated great leadership over the summer and throughout the first weeks of the season and they will be looked upon to lead their team on another quest for a Division Championship, their first since 2009.
The offensive line is a big question mark for the Braves because they have to rebuild their whole offensive line. The line will be anchored by Will Posey at center, Mason Jenkins and John Paul Elkins at Guards with Brandon Thompson and Hunter West at the tackle position.
The coaches are hoping that Ryan Crews, Aaron Tiller, Trent Sickman, Josh Brown and a few others can help provide some much-needed depth on the offensive line. Offensive line coaches Jordan McDaniel and Corey Paul Shelnutt are excited about the progress that these guys have made during the last three weeks. If the offensive line play will develop as they hope it will, the offense should be exciting to watch.
Carlton White, the teams leading rusher last year, is back and ready to carry the load as needed. However, this year, the team has an extremely talented supporting cast.
Kendaz Goode and Jaden Moreland are back at receiver. Both of these guys had an outstanding summer and their development as receivers will allow the Braves to be able to throw the football a little more this year than they have in years past. There is also some depth at the receiver with Gage Cannon, Brandon Skipper and Kayo Bradfield.
At the running back position, Christopher Goode, Luis Vasquez, and Andrew Leek will be sharing time at full back while Matthew Nilsen will be sharing time with White at the tailback position.
The offense will be run by quarterback Emory Jones, a very talented signal caller who has experience at that position. Jaden Moreland will also see some time at the quarterback position for the Braves.
An injury to starting tight end Trevor Garcia during the first week of practice has been one of the few setbacks that the Braves have had during the first three weeks of practice. However, Bryan Jones and David Urquilla have moved into that spot and have adjusted nicely.
Head Coach Allen Sikes hopes that Garcia will be able to return in two or three weeks but as most injuries go, they do take proper time to heal.
“Offensive coordinator, Coach Heath Horn, has done an outstanding job of getting our offense to be very productive the last two years and he has done a superb job of getting them ready for this year,” said Sikes. “He takes great pride in coaching and he pushes the players to be the best they can be at all times.”
The defense should be a strong point for the Braves again this year with Goode, Vasquez, Posey, Moreland, Nilsen and White having all seen lots of playing time last year on the defensive side of the ball. Both Michael Cheney and Gage Cannon have been a pleasant surprise, they really came into their own during the summer and the hard work has transferred onto the playing field.
With the recent addition of Emory Jones, Kayo Bradfield, Andrew Leek and Brandon Thompson, four students who moved into the Heard County School System recently, the defense could possibly be one of the best defenses that the middle school has ever placed on the field.
These guys along with the linemen mentioned earlier have defensive coordinator, Coach Aubrey Westmoreland, looking forward to another stellar defensive unit. His defenses have given up only an average of eight and ten points per game each of the last two seasons. Said Sikes, “Coach Westmoreland does a great job of getting his defenses to play with a high level of intensity each and every game.”
“We have also added Coaches Joe Nutt and Jim Porter to our staff; they are working with the backs and receivers as well as coaching the younger less experienced players while the ones and twos are having team time. We do our group time together as a whole team but this team time allows for the younger guys to be working on fundamentals as well as running plays and learning the formations so they will be prepared to play, “stated Sikes.
“We decided to do this with the younger guys this year to eliminate standing around and get these guys some much-needed reps. In years past when substitutions had to be made, we usually had to take a timeout but we want to be able for them to roll right in and not change the flow of the game.”
“This will allow the guys to know who they will be going on the field with and what positions they will be playing when they go into the game. Basically, it is like a JV squad for our middle school. Coaches Nutt and Porter will also be calling the offense and defense when these guys enter the game. We believe that our program will reap great benefits in the long run by doing this.”
Coach Sikes stated the first game this Thursday at Callaway will be a test. “It is always hard to judge a team and how they will perform when you are going through summer workouts and even during practice and drills, the true test comes when you line an opponent up across from you and play the game.”
Another thing the Braves are working on is building some depth this year at each position so they will be better prepared should one of the starters go down. Sikes and his staff believe that the lack of depth caused the team to come up a little short in the championship game at Bremen last year.
The Braves open up their season against a very well-coached Callaway Cavalier squad this Thursday at Callaway Middle School at 5:00. “Coach Woodard does a great job year in and year out getting his players to play with a lot of energy when we play. This year should not be any different,” added Sikes. To see photos of this year’s squad visit the Khris Martin Photography Page on Facebook.
2013 HCMS Football Schedule
Aug. 29 at Callaway Middle
Sept. 5 Open
Sept. 12 at Mount Zion
Sept. 19 Bowdon
Sept. 26 at Villa Rica
Oct. 3 Temple – 8th grade recognition
Oct. 9 at Haralson Co. **
Oct. 17 Playoffs- TBA
Oct. 24 Championship- TBA
All games begin at 5:00 p.m.
**- Wednesday Game due to school holiday.