By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
Wes Sims, J.U. Blacksher’s head football coach, enters his 11th spring practice period looking to attain the goal of securing a state title when the 2019-20 season starts in August.
Last season the Bulldogs went 4-6 overall (3-4 region), including a 21-14 win over rival Excel High in the 78th matchup between the two rural schools. With only eight seniors gone from that team, Sims is hopeful that a squad full of experienced players will pay off.
“We have a ton of experience coming back,” the JUB coach said. “Our biggest challenges at this point is depth on the offensive line.”
Sims hopes to retain most of the players on his 41-man roster throughout the summer, when the heat takes hold of long practice days. He knows, though, that some of the players will hang up their jerseys for the year due to second thoughts and other obligations.
“You never retain the number of guys that you start with,” Sims said. “If we can keep at least 30 guys on the varsity squad, I will be pleased.”
Many starters will return to the Bulldog lineup this season, including 6-foot-5 quarterback K.D. Rabb.
Rabb was slotted into the quarterback position last season for the Bulldogs and will be the man looked up to within the huddle this season.
“Rabb is a great kid and is able to use his height to his advantage,” Sims said. “His biggest issue is deep passes, which will be addressed this summer.”
On the spring and summer practice agendas for the Bulldogs is the issue of finding offensive linemen who can step right in and earn playing time. Many of the linemen will have the task of playing on both sides of the ball, and Sims said the Bulldogs will be implementing new schemes to aid in the task of building the lines.
When the Bulldogs enter the upcoming season, one of their biggest challenges will be a tough region. Blacksher will face opponents such as South Choctaw, Leroy, Washington County and Prattville Christian School.
According to Sims, the region is always tough, and each opponent is well coached. The team’s schedule is filled with the potential for a dogfight each week.
“In order to prepare for these tough opponents, we will require each player to play to his potential,” Sims said. “We will be implementing a college-football style of play, and each guy will be required to pull his weight for the team. If we are going to be successful, the guys must play to their potential.”
Sims stressed that last season’s players were good but did not play to their full abilities. That is one aspect that will be worked on during the spring and summer months leading into August, Sims said.
The Bulldogs are full of bite and are ready to be released from their leash.
The first peek at just how ready the veteran-laden team is will come next Tuesday, May 21, when the Bulldogs travel to take on Jay High in a preseason contest that is set to start at 7 p.m.