By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
Escambia County High School is taking to the Spring practice field with new leadership and a new attitude.
The Blue Devils will say goodbye to 22 seniors who are set to graduate in May.
“We are losing a ton of players,” new head coach Scott Mason said. “We have 22 guys that will be graduating. On the upside, we have 15 new seniors who will be returning.”
Although most of the starters for one of Class 4A’s stingiest and hardest-hitting defensive units will be back, ECHS will only be welcoming back one offensive starter. As a result, an entire new offensive line will need to be built and a totally new system will be put into place.
“The senior leadership is going to be a hard factor to replace, but kids are stepping up to the plate and are excited for the opportunity,” Mason said. “We will have a very young team that will have to step into key positions.”
Mason, who comes to ECHS by way of Florala High, said he has wanted to become the head coach of the Blue Devils for years and was offered the opportunity prior to the beginning of the school year.
“This has always been the school on my radar to coach at,” Mason said earlier this year during an interview with Atmore News. “Atmore has always been good to my family and has always felt like home.”
Mason became famous for the “Thunder and Lighting” offensive scheme that he helped create. The setup is a fast-paced offense designed to keep the defense guessing whether the ball will be thrown or handed off to a running back.
“The guys are loving the fast-paced offense that the tactic generates,” said Mason. “It is going to be interesting to see how they will adapt to it over the course of the new few weeks, leading up to our pre-season game against Northview (Friday, May 17, at ECHS).”
Mason explained that the offense will stretch the field, play wide open and set an exciting tempo.
With the Blue Devils building from scratch, getting everything in gear and building offensive and defensive lines are their main focus.
“We have some excited guys ready to take the field, and the coaching staff is among the best that I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” Mason said.
“Principal (Dennis) Fuqua cares about the students and this team and wants the best for Escambia County High School. He is a great man to work for and demands the best in and out of the classroom.”
Mason explained that ECHS will rise to the challenge and play its new brand of football and added that his young team is eager and driven to succeed.
“A new tempo will be seen as we take the field,” he said. “The defensive and offensive lines will be in control, and we will play our game. Our goal is to be versatile and mistake-free. We will be the team that people hate to visit.”