Back to the gridiron

Governors return to practice with renewed focus

William Blount senior Zach Witt rolls out to throw during Governors spring practice last week.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

William Blount senior Zach Witt rolls out to throw during Governors spring practice last week.

Governor coach David Gregory directs traffic last week.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

Governor coach David Gregory directs traffic last week.

The William Blount High School football team had its fill of off-the-field distractions last season. If this spring is any indicator, the Governors are ready to return all the focus to the playing field in 2010.

“We really haven’t had to address (last year),” second-year coach David Gregory said. “The practices this spring were just so different. The aggressiveness, the attitude, was just different. This senior class, they just love the game and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.”

William Blount could hardly be in better shape at quarterback. Rising senior Zach Witt blossomed into an all-county performer under Gregory’s direction. His ability to move the ball with either his feet or his arm this spring was a big check mark in the plus column. Put with some of the receivers and ball carriers he’ll have at his disposal, the Governors are looking to be quite a bit more lively on offense this fall.

As many as six backs saw their share of snaps during spring. While Projected starters Dalton Wheeler and Brenden Rudd were lost to injury before last weekend’s spring game, Gregory came away anything but discouraged.

Rising sophomore Greg Cook turned a lot of heads with extra reps the injuries to Wheeler and Rudd afforded. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is one you’ll notice come fall.

“I think you’re going to probably hear his name really often,” Gregory said. “He could be the real deal, I think.”

Cook had plenty of competition for carries during the spring, with rising sophomores Logan York, Blake Rodgers and Hunter Saunders each tearing off impressive runs.

“I think (Saunders) could be game-changer,” Gregory said.

On the outside, rising senior Jesse Crisp paces a receiving corps Gregory is really high on. Rising senior Maurice Hurd emerged as a deep threat. Rudd, as much slot receiver as running back, adds a great deal of versatility. In rising senior Michael “Skittles” Parish, the Governors appear to have a genuine, game-breaking athlete at their disposal.

It’s up front on the offensive line where most of the work had to be done this spring, and, even there, there were big pluses, with big the operative word. Replacements for all five starters had to be found, and, while somewhat inexperienced young, they were. Rising senior Clay Whitehead and rising junior Jonathan Lowery impressed this spring in leading the surge.

“We were so concerned because nobody had ever taken a snap,” Gregory said, “and they held their own in the spring game. We want do it, but we could very easily put five 300-pounders up front.”

The Governors will be somewhat inexperienced on the defensive side of the ball as well, but, again, that inexperience has shown well this spring. Rising junior Cole Henry at one of the linebackers is just the kind of player it takes to direct such a stop unit. The size and skill around him Gregory feels is substantial.

Whitehead, 6-foot-4, 340, is going to be a lot for opposing offenses to move at nose guard. Wheeler and Hurd both delivered their respective share of big plays at defensive back. Come fall, the Governors will get an added boost when expected transfer T.J. Satterfield arrives from McCallie to help at linebacker. Parish projects as big a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball as he does on offense.

Many questions were asked an answered this spring, Gregory said.

“We knew our offensive line was going to be a question mark because we lost so many kids up front,” Gregory said. “We felt good about our skill people.”

So much so, the William Blount skipper gave the Governors the rest of the spring off after the intra-squad scrimmage. Fall will come soon enough.

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