Coach Dan Oliver knew the 2011 football season would be a learning experience with only two returning starters and no returning scorers.
The Cougars, which went 0-7 last year, can only improve, something Oliver believes is all too possible.
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Only six seniors graduated and more than 20 came back from the JV team to add meat to the varsity squad.
“We’re more athletic, we’re better, we’re probably deeper,” Oliver said. “Last year we only had one set of linemen and then it was pretty murky to try and figure out who would be next. This year, you’ve got pretty much two interchangeable groups.”
Returning linemen include seniors Justin Nixon, Daryl Carr, junior David Jung, and 6-foot, 3-inch, 300-pound Andre Williams, who is a junior. Oliver said he expected sophomore Devondre Love (6-feet, 5-inches, 280 pounds) to be a strong addition to the team.
Quarterback Jonah Boyd returns as a senior to lead the team, but unlike last year, Oliver has options at the position. Junior Marcus Burse started at corner and played wide receiver last year, but can also throw.
Boyd went 26 for 91 for a total of 288 yards last season. The senior also played defense, with 13 tackles and one fumble recovery to his record.
“Jonah’s probably one of our better leaders and he really organizes everyone,” Oliver said. “We’re looking for him and Demontay (Patrick) to get everyone ready.”
Patrick led the team in touchdowns and rushed for 789 yards last year, something Oliver hopes to push to 1,000 in the fall.
“We got a lot of kids that came back but we also got a lot of kids that fell into our laps this year,” Oliver said.
Tyler Gebhardt moved to the area and specializes in defense and at running back.
Frantz Lindor is new to the team, but starred on the volleyball court this spring. His brother, West, started on special teams last season but will transition to wide receiver. Oliver is also looking at the 6-foot, 5-inch sophomore as quarterback in the future.
“He’s not scared to go out here and compete on the varsity level. He’s already seen it, he’s already gotten hit and he’s already delivered a shot or two,” Oliver said.
The coach hopes the mix of new blood and old combine for a winning record and hopefully, a conference championship.