A-J football team has no returning starters for 2019
The Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team has finished its first week of practice and will have a completely different look this fall.
“It’s a unique situation,” A-J coach Brett Detering said. “We return zero starters from last year. We’ve never had that happen before. We’ve had teams with a couple of guys coming back, but this year, not any.”
The team is preparing for its season opener at West Frankfort on Friday, Aug. 30.
There are only 8 seniors and 10 juniors on the team. A big part of the roster will be made up of 20 sophomores.
“We’re got kind of lower numbers in juniors and seniors,” Detering said. “We’ll kind of lean on the sophomores.”
The coach is looking at junior Carson Pengress, 5-8, 180 pounds, and sophomore Gavin Osman, 6-1, 150 pounds, at quarterback. Pengress was the backup quarterback last season.
Fullback candidates are juniors Nate Belcher, 6-1, 190 pounds, and Jacob Doss, 5-11, 210 pounds, and sophomores Barry Johnson, 5-9, 160 pounds, and Matthew Wright, 5-9, 215 pounds.
At running back, some top prospects are seniors Drake Roach, 5-7, 145 pounds, and Noah Hodson, 6-0, 150 pounds; junior Nate Baggott, 6-0, 140 pounds; and sophomores Wright, Josh Davis, 5-11, 170 pounds, and Arojae Hart, 5-2, 115 pounds.
On the line, the most experienced returner is junior Bryce Bowers, 6-3, 305 pounds, who started a couple of games last season.
Senior Hayden Carter, 5-11, 195 pounds, will be on the defensive line.
Some top offensive line candidates are sophomores Keegan Keller, 5-8, 220 pounds; Eli Pecord, 6-2, 275 pounds; Andrew Detering, 6-0, 240 pounds; and Brad Glasco, 5-10, 170 pounds.
“We’ll have a lot more sophomores on offense than we’ve ever had,” Detering said. “We’ll be leaning heavily on our younger kids.”
The Wildcats do return sophomore Noah Treece, 6-0, 185 pounds, who was the punter and kicker last season.
“We’re hoping our guys are able to overcome” a lack of experience, Detering said. “Sometimes you need experience and the only way to get that is out on the field.”
There is a big key if the Wildcats are to have a successful season.
“You’ve got to be able to execute and that doesn’t change,” Detering said. “We’ll have a lack of experience early in the season. Hopefully, our guys are able to overcome it.”
Playing a lot of younger players could pay off later on.
“It helps down the road,” Detering said. “But now we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Wildcats have enjoyed several seasons of success recently, finishing 8-3 overall last year and 28-7 over the last three seasons.