• 86°

Movin’ on up

Class 2A, Region 4

Coach Lanny Jones (5-5 in one season at Isabella)

Last year 5-5 regular season, 3-4 region

Key losses DE Garrett Payton, LB Stephen Huddleston

Schedule

8/29 at Jefferson Christian

9/5 Fultondale*

9/12 at Vincent*

9/19 American Christian*

9/26 at Verbena

10/3 at Pickens Co.*

10/10 Hale Co.*

10/17 at Thorsby*

10/24 Shades Mtn.*

10/31 Lamar Co.

* region game

Key game Fultondale. Isabella will find out quickly how well it can compete in Class 2A.

Roster

1-Austin Haigler-Sr.

2-Hunter Cleckley-Sr.

3-Evan Russell-Jr.

4-Dylan Green-So.

5-Kelsey Gardner-Sr.

7-Blake Edwards-So.

9-James Jones-Fr.

11-Adam Jones-Jr.

12-Allen Edwards-Jr.

14-Norman Craig-Sr.

16-Brandon Veazey-Sr.

19-Del Green-Sr.

20-Matthew Shaw-Sr.

21-Brian Donovan-Sr.

23-Willie Stacy-Jr.

25-Trent Wyatt-Jr.

34-J.D. Lenoir-So.

35-Jabrail Spence-Fr.

45-Brandon Green-So.

48-Sean Haigler-Jr.

50-Hunter Mims-Jr.

52-Zac Ellison-Sr.

53-Adam Huddleston-Sr.

63-Cody Thompson-Jr.

64-Blake Lawley-Jr.

68-Matt Hardy-Sr.

72-Ian Hall-Fr.

75-Blake Green-Sr.

77-Jarrod Green-Fr.

Key player Kelsey Gardner, receiver and defensive back. Isabella won five games and barely missed the playoffs by playing solid defense and conservative offense. That won’t change, but a few more big plays by the guy that had more than any other Mustang in 2007 would go a long way toward making 2008 memorable.

Isabella last year broke its 23-game losing streak in a big way: the Mustangs won not once but five times.

Then, just when everything starts looking up, a reclassification moved the Mustangs up to Class 2A and into Region 5, home to perennial powers American Christian, Fultondale and Pickens County High.

Lanny Jones’ team, most of which will look the same as last season, is undaunted because of an attitude it found last season somewhere along with all those wins.

“Our guys right now are carrying that attitude of they don’t want to lose,” Jones said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Quarterbacks

Junior Allen Edwards will be the starting Isabella quarterback for the third year.

“He runs the offense well,” Jones said. “The biggest thing is whatever we call, he knows what to do.”

Running backs

The Mustangs hope to get as much production out of the Brian Donovan/Norman Craig combination as they

did last season, when the duo rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns. When the team is full

strength, junior Sean Haigler and sophomore Brandon Green will split time at fullback.

Receivers

Haigler’s and Green’s work at fullback will allow senior

Del Green to move to tight end, a position Jones thinks will better utilize Del Green’s versatility. Edwards’ passes will also

find their way to seniors Kelsey Gardner and Brandon Veazey and junior Adam Jones, who the Isabella coach said had a productive offseason.

Offensive line

All five starters return at this unit, which has allowed

Jones and his staff to install more zone blocking schemes to complement the man blocking the Mustangs relied on in 2007.

Back in their familiar spots are junior left tackle Hunter Mims, junior left guard Blake Lawley, senior center Blake Green, senior right guard Zac Ellison and senior right tackle Matt Hardy.

Defensive line

Ellison and Brandon Green will swap sides of the football and play defensive tackle. Flanking them will be defensive ends Austin Haigler, a sophomore, and Willie Stacy, a junior. As a sophomore, Stacy tallied an area-high 12 sacks.

Linebackers

Hardy will play middle linebacker. Lawley, who led the team last year in tackles with

94, will play one outside spot. The other will be manned by Edwards until Del Green can return from an injury.

“We’re undersized for sure, but we have a lot of quickness,” Jones said about his front seven. “Sometimes that quickness might be harder to block than just size.”

Secondary

Donovan and Veazey will line up opposite the other teams’ receivers, though Jones said backups are necessary here because of the roles Donovan and Veazey play on offense. Gardner will be the free safety, and Craig will play strong safety. All four are returning starters.

Special teams

Stacy will try his hand, or foot, at kicking off and placekicking. Hardy was the punter last year, averaging more than 34 yards a kick, and will be again this year. Donovan and Craig will be the primary return men.