Falcons face new foe...transition
Overview: Over the past two years, the Falcons have enjoyed record-breaking success including a 12-2 mark last season. Now comes the tough part of football: transition. Many key pieces of last year’s team advanced to the Lower State championship game must be replaced. There is no doubt that A.C. Flora head football coach Dean Howell has raised the standard for this program, but the 2012 campaign may be the biggest indicator as to the overall status of the program. A good nucleus of players remains, and the positive effects of recent success are immeasurable, but can Howell fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle and keep this program among the best in Class AAA?
QUARTERBACK-Jake Lewis (Sr.), Caleb McComb (Jr.): Lewis has plenty of experience on the varsity level and at quarterback. However, this will be his first season as the full-time starter. On top of that, he must replace Stephen Cagle, the quarterback who guided the Falcons to 22 wins over the past two seasons. Despite missing much of spring practice because of his responsibilities with the Falcon baseball team, there doesn’t appear to be much concern from Howell that Lewis can get the job done and little to indicate the offense will change much from the past few seasons. Lewis is a more mobile quarterback, which could put more pressure on opposing defenses. McComb will benefit from Lewis’s absence during spring practice gaining experience working with the first string offense.
RUNNING BACKKeith Goss (Sr.), Cam Asbill (Sr.), R.J. Joyner (Sr.): Asbill and Joyner saw plenty of playing time in 2011 after Goss went down in the spring with a torn ACL. Despite the injury, Goss was able to come back for the playoff run and made quite an impact. This unit may be called on a lot as Lewis settles in to the quarterback role. Howell is expecting big things from all the running backs and believes they all have a chance to turn in a very productive season.
WIDE RECEIVER/ TIGHT END-Schroder Carlton (Sr.): Howell will spend a lot of time between now and the beginning of the season finding options to spread the field. While he searches for an option, he does have Carlton, who along with his playmaking ability, is a dependable receiver. Despite missing spring practice because of baseball, Carlton will enter the 2012 season as one of the top wide receivers in the state and someone who defenses will have to account for every time he is on the field.
OFFENSIVE LINEMarcus Black (Sr.), Jay Hill (Sr.), Jack Hudgens (Sr.), Matt Ulmer (Sr.): Along with the running backs, this is one of the most experienced units on the team. Hudgens started every game for A.C. Flora at the center position in 2011. While it might not be the biggest group, Howell says his linemen are tough, reliable, and smart.
DEFENSIVE LINEDakota Bryant (Sr.), Donato Pelzer (Sr.): Bryant and Pelzer will be asked to provide leadership for a unit replacing three seniors from the 2011 season. Howell says they are really good players, and he is looking for good production from each player in 2012.
LINEBACKER- Tyan Vereen (Sr.): While Lewis must replace Cagle, Vereen has the task of filling the shoes left by Donte Lovett. Vereen has game experience, starting many games during the 2010 and 2011 season. Strength will not be a problem for Vereen. He won the state championship at a strength meet in April.
DEFENSIVE BACK/ SAFETY: Howell will have to replace all four starters from the 2011 season, and he is going to wait until camp in August to make his decision. He does have some backs with experience but is still waiting to find the best four to put on the field.
KICKER/PUNTERJoseph Charlton (So.), Schroder Carlton (Sr.): Charlton was pressed into duty as a freshman. He has a strong leg that should provide the Falcons with another weapon. As far as a punter, Howell says he is still looking for one, but he does have Carlton’s experience as the punter in 2011 to fall back on. Carlton did not allow a single yard from opponents on punt returns and adds a different dimension with his athleticism and the threat of a fake.