Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Crockett, Boone back to the gridiron with some similarities

Last season, the Pioneers of David Crockett High School and the Trailblazers of Daniel Boone High School were as different as any two teams in the conference, sharing a county as their only similarity.
After significant losses in personnel from both teams, this season’s versions of the Pioneers and Blazers share more similarities than differences.
Crockett graduated 21 seniors last season, with only three starters returning on offense and four on defense.
Head Coach Kent Green is optimistic, however, about being better despite the loss of so much experience.
“Anytime you lose that many seniors you are going to worry about leadership,” Green said. “But we have kids stepping up, working hard in practice and leading by example.”
Boone lost 16 of 22 starters from a team that made another run in the TSSAA playoffs last season. The faces that have been so memorable throughout Blazer athletics are now missing, which begs the question is Boone rebuilding?
Blazer Head Coach Jeremy Jenkins refuses to see it as such.
“That group was a special group. We have lost some great kids, but as we have told this new group, this year that group is done. It is time for them to make their own identity,” Jenkins said. “That first practice I told them to look around. You don’t see (last year’s seniors) here. This is now your team.”
Jenkins said the kids have responded well to the call, displaying tremendous work ethic in the weight room and the early goings on the field.
Both the Blazers and Pioneers will be breaking in new quarterbacks to lead their teams.
For Boone, junior Jacob Littleton will be under center in a more run oriented offense.
“We have a new quarterback in Jacob Littleton,” Jenkins said. “What he lacks in experience he’ll make up for with athletic ability. He can hurt teams running and throwing.”
The Blazers look to be strong up front, both on offense and defense.
The Boone defensive unit will be led by three starters returning to the defensive line in seniors Zach Jackson and Ryan Iezzi and junior Trevor Duncan.
Three also return to the offensive line for the Blazers, but it will be newcomer Josh Smith at center who could be the most pivotal for the unit.
Two names the Boone faithful heard a lot of last season who will be returning are running back and return specialists Cliff Sanders and Austin McLemore.
Sanders, a second team All Big 8 selection as a sophomore will look to build on a 2010 tally of over 900 rushing yards.
His counterpart in senior McLemore will return kicks and punts as well as see his share of touches in a more run oriented Boone backfield.
Crockett will be looking to new senior transfer Devaun Miller to spur a Pioneer passing attack that was lacking a season ago.
“He’s a kid who transferred in here from Science Hill this year,” Green said of Miller. “He’s a good athlete. He throws well and runs well. It’s just going to be about gaining experience for him because the tools are there.”
Green sees Crockett’s strengths at the skill positions.
“The backfield should be good on offense and the secondary should be strong on defense,” he said.
With 1,000 yard rusher Vic Shepherd lost to graduation, the Pioneers will call on Anthony Campbell, who was a starter at receiver last season to fill the vacancy.
“Victor is going to be terribly hard to replace. We have had two 1,000 yard rushers here in back to back years and are kind of becoming a tailback U,” Green said. “We believe we have someone who can fill Victor’s shoes this year in Campbell. He’s a good runner and a great athlete.”
Campbell also believes he is up for the challenge in a familiar position.
“I am really comfortable with the position. It was the first one I ever played,” Campbell said. “Behind our offensive line, I think I can repeat the success we have had running the ball the past couple of years.”
Both Jenkins and Green see the goal at hand as making the playoffs, a feat always difficult in the Big 8.
For the Blazers, embracing underdog status will be another change from 2010 to 2011.
“We are fine being looked at as an underdog,” Jenkins said. “This time last year we had 17 starters back and were looked at as a top dog. Either way we are going to come out ready to play.”
For Crockett, the talent looks to be better, but it will be leadership that will define the team.
“We want to make the playoffs and playing in the first week of November,” he said.
Crockett and Boone will open regular season play on Aug. 19.
The Pioneers will face Sullivan East at home while the Trailblazers will begin their 2011 campaign at Elizabethton.