Photo courtesy of Spain Park Football.
0812 SPHS football on lineThe Jags will look to improve up front on the offensive line and in the secondary this year.
Coach Chip Lindsey is happy about what he is seeing from this year’s Jags as he enters his second year as coach.
“We had a great spring. We made a lot of progress from year one to year two, so this spring was a lot easier,” said Lindsey.
Players responded well and are excited about their season. The roster this year has about 100 athletes, but most importantly, the Jags have Nick Mullens, a two-year returning starter, which is rare for teams in the region.
“Nick is more in control of the offense, knowing where everybody goes and where to go with the ball,” Lindsey said.
Senior running back Kevron McMillan was injured last year and didn’t see much action, but he’s back and healthy. “He’s a difference maker. He’ll be one of the best backs in the area if he stays healthy.”
The team worked hard in the spring and made it through without any significant injuries. Some of the key football players could not participate in the training because they were in baseball season, but Lindsey said it gave some underclassmen a chance to get work, which is always a good thing.
Most of the receiving corps is returning this year, which has the Spain Park coaches smiling. Seniors Cade Hoffman, Josh Close, M.J. Brown, Drake Grisham and Ben Olinger all received a lot of playing time last year. “We’re a four-wide team, and we’ve got a lot of guys back with experience and have caught some balls.”
The team wasn’t as lucky when it came to the defensive secondary. All of the guys signed Division One FBS scholarships, so the secondary will be inexperienced.
The team has two good linebackers returning: Jeniah Jackson and Jacob Wolkow.
One of their best players on the field, according to Lindsey, is Jacob Chaffin, a defensive tackle. The front seven will be their strength on defense. “We’re not extremely big, but we have a lot of experience, and these guys run well. They play extremely hard.”
Offensively, Spain Park’s line is staffed with good athletes, but they don’t have much playing time.
The Jags lost their kicker to graduation, but Thomas Taylor stepped in and should handle place kicking and kickoff duties. However, he will have to compete with Hudson Carr before he can get comfortable in that slot.
Punter Michael Pizzitola rounds out the kicking game.
All these players had a good spring, but only time in the fire will tell if they can perform under the lights.
“Our strength will be our senior leadership and the closeness of the team,” Lindsey said. “They care a lot about each other and the goal of what it takes to be a good football team.”
The Jags lost to Oxford in round one of the state playoffs last year, ending the season at 5-6.
To be successful this year, the seniors have to step up as leaders, the team must be committed and accountable to each other, and on the field they must improve up front on the offensive line and in the secondary.
Like most schools in their region, the schedule shuffled this year.
“We don’t play Hoover anymore, but we picked up Prattville, and that’s no walk in the park,” Lindsey said. But they’ll play Oak Mountain, Thompson, Chelsea, Wetumpka and others. He feels the region will be as tough as it ever was.
“I really like our team. They are close, fun to be around. They make it fun to go to work coaching every day.”