Experience coming to forefront for CoosaPublished 3:32pm Wednesday, July 30, 2014
As the summer conditioning sessions wind down and the fall approaches, local teams are making final preparations before they put the pads on in practice.
The Central-Coosa County Cougars are no different, but unlike some teams, they have a pretty good idea of the product they’ll be putting on the field.
“Everything’s gone pretty good, and I think we’re going to be good to go,” said Cougars coach Richard Bell. “We’ve had a lot of participation from all our guys.”
According to Bell, most of the positions are locked down with experienced players to man the starting spots.
He added that – thanks to a bit of reshuffling – the heart of the defense will reside in its core.
“We’re expecting our linebackers to be the strength of our team,” Bell said. “ We’re set to start three seniors there, and they’re all experienced.”
Leading that corps will be Tre Royal, who typically played with his hand on the ground on the front four.
As he is considered the team’s dominant player, Bell and the coaching staff decided to move Royal – who had 83 tackles and five sacks in eight games in 2013 – to the middle of the Cougars defense.
“He’s by far our best athlete,” Bell said of Royal. “And last year, teams would gameplan against him and run plays away from him. We’re putting him in a position where he can go whatever way he needs to and so teams can’t run from him anymore.”
Bell said that Royal has taken a larger leadership role with the team during the offseason, but he won’t be the only Cougar that’s establishing himself as one of the driving forces behind the team.
“(Quarterback) Andrew Hammond is another one of those kids that has taken ownership of the team,” Bell said. “He and Royal have both taken it, and they’re doing everything together, whether it’s working out or something else. Andrew’s been preparing for this for two or three years, and last year he played well for us. Now his time has come.”
While most of the Cougars are set, a key battle has yet to be decided. The Cougars lost their starting cornerbacks from last season, and shoring up that area will be a point of interest going forward for the team.
“We’ve got three young kids battling for those spots in Javon McKinney, Tyus Evans and CD Askew,” Bell said. “Javon and Tyus are sophomores, and Askew’s a junior, so it’ll be important for us to figure out who we’ll have.”
The Cougars open practice Aug. 4.