A New Era of Tiger football
Class 5A, Region 3
Coach Brian Carter (First year at Chilton County High)
Last year 7-3 regular season, 4-3 region, lost to St. Paul’s in first-round playoffs
Key losses RB Ryan Williams, FB Gary Davis, RB Deyongta Franklin, C Sam Botts, G Ryan Brown, T Brian McPherson, LB Desmond Reese, LB Tyler Morgan
9/5 at Demopolis*
9/26 at Tallassee
10/3 Monroe Co.*
10/10 at Selma*
10/17 Wilcox Central*
10/24 at Greenville*
10/31 at Bibb Co.
* region game
Key game Jemison. A fifth consecutive win over their rivals would give the Tigers the confidence they need to find enough region wins to make the playoffs.
Key player Taylor Hughes, quarterback. The Tigers will be strong again defensively; Hughes primarily will determine if this year’s offense will be better than that of last year.
The 2008 season promises to be one of change for the Chilton County High football program.
For the first time since 2003, the Tigers will have a new coach. As would be expected, much has changed already: only two assistant coaches remain from former coach Steve McCord’s staff, the Tigers made appearances
at a couple of 7-on-7 passing camps during the summer, and new coach Brian Carter instituted Tiger Day, where every player involved in Clanton football – from youth league to the varsity squad – performed on the same field on the same day.
Excitement about the program has centered on the potential of the offense, which Carter mainly works with and has taught a new system. Carter maintains the Tigers will rely on the running game as much if not more than in the past, but fans that expected to see the new coach bring with him from Class 6A power Spain Park a pass-happy attack had their suspicions confirmed when, in one half of regulation football, CCHS quarterback Taylor Hughes completed eight of 17 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers won, 20-0.
The player that will play the most significant role in how much success Carter’s offense enjoys is junior quarterback Taylor Hughes. Carter said Hughes is picking up the offense at a good pace.
“They’re having to learn a lot in a hurry,” Carter said of Hughes and his other two quarterbacks, sophomores Jacob McKinney and Dylan Jackson.
Hughes has the advantage of having started the last four games of the 2007 season.
“[Week 8 opponent] Bibb County was a really good team, and [first-round playoff opponent and eventual Class 5A state champion] St. Paul’s was good, so I think that will help me this year.”
Hughes said his favorite part of the new offense is working from the shotgun instead of from under center. The quarterback’s participation in a 7-on-7 camp at Isabella and a camp at LaFayette (Ga.) High School should help his progression. So should the players Hughes will hand off and throw to.
“As long as I get it out there to the receivers, they’ll catch it,” he said.
Gheryme Reed will be
Chilton’s featured back. Reed is a senior that didn’t see much playing time last year because of the presence of now-
departed Ryan Williams. Reed’s speed will be his strength, Carter said, and he is improving his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Junior F-back James Boswell also has demonstrated during practices an ability to contribute.
“We look for big things from them because we’re going to rely on the run, maybe more so than in the past,” Carter said.
The group Hughes has so much confidence in will include seniors Marcus Harris and Cody Jones, junior Kendrick Woods and sophomore Montel Wilkes. The four have lots of talent, but Carter said he is most impressed by their willingness to block.
“They’re probably more important as blockers than they are catching the ball,” Carter said. “Of course, they’d love to just catch balls for two hours, but they know there’s more to it.”
The offensive front was the area hardest hit by graduation losses last year, as all-area selections Ryan Brown and
Brian McPherson are no longer available. Carter, though, said he is confident this year’s group will grow into an effective unit. The starters look to be sophomore Blake Norman and senior Kerri Jones at the tackles, junior Alex Little and senior Travis Hardy at the guards and senior Jordan Collins at center. Unlike last year’s unit, the five mentioned above won’t break any scales, but Carter said that isn’t necessarily a problem.
“I don’t feel like you have to be very big,” he said. “They may be a little undersized but their motors are there, and I can live with that.”
Carter said this unit will be a
team strength. Seniors Daquon Hubbard and Omar Sosa, junior Casey Brand and sophomores Nelson
and Jenson Gore plus others will all see playing time, allowing each plenty of rest throughout the game.
Senior D.J. Parker will lead the defense from his middle linebacker spot. Senior Cody Cummings moved from safety to one outside position, and junior Cameron Minor will make plays on the other side.
“That front 7 is pretty good,” Carter said.
Sophomore Anthony Atchison has one safety spot locked up, and junior Darnell Spear has done the same at one corner. The other two starting positions in the secondary are still up for grabs.
“There’s a lot of competition going on back there,” Carter said.
Senior Patrick Norman will handle placekicking duties once again but will
also punt this year. Carter said Norman has added range onto his field goal attempts.
“He’s been one of the hardest workers I’ve seen since I got here,” Carter said.
Reed and Spear will be the primary return men.