Although Dadeville’s football team lost a few really key pieces from last year’s squad, the Tigers are determined to make a return to the playoffs. They have several players who don’t seem to expect any less than the best, and those guys are working hard to lead the younger crew.
And there are even some underclassmen who have a lot of varsity experience that’ll be leaned on heavily this season. But it’s all going to come down to how quickly some of the newcomers can grow into their roles. Until then, they’re going to need a little grooming.
Jamarion Wilkerson, wide receiver
After not even playing during his sophomore season, Wilkerson really came onto the scene last year as a wide receiver. He was even named as an honorable mention on the All-Outlook team.
Wilkerson, who also plays basketball for the Tigers, is back for more during his senior season and has emerged as a team leader. He’ll move to also play safety.
“I expect him to just have a great season on both sides of the ball for us,” Dadeville coach Richard White said.
Josh Taylor, running back/defensive back
Like Wilkerson, Taylor will be utilized for his senior leadership this year.
With a few years of track under his belt as well, Taylor boasts a lot of speed and he can also play in multiple positions. This year, he’ll lead the running back corps and also likely spend some time as a slot receiver. He’ll also once again be featured as a defensive back.
Also like Wilkerson, Taylor was named an honorable mention on last year’s All-Outlook team.
Jamauri Chislom, offensive/defensive line
Chislom has been moved to offensive tackle to help strengthen Dadeville’s line as the Tigers will need all the help they can get in trying to break in new sophomore quarterback Lane Smith. Chislom will also continue to play at defensive end.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Chislom certainly has the stature to be a dominating lineman and White hopes the move to offensive line will also help Chislom’s future career in football.
“Once he learns what he’s doing, that’s really going to help,” White said. “He’s a big ole boy. Plus he’s being recruited by some schools as an offensive lineman so he needs to get in there and get his hands dirty.”
Max McClendon, offensive/defensive line
McClendon has battled some injuries through the course of his high school football career, but now he’s hoping that’s all behind him as he enters his senior year ready to take on an even bigger role.
He’ll play offensive tackle and either defensive tackle or end, and he’s been a big part of Dadeville’s successful defense. He was an All-Outlook First Team selection a year ago, and if McClendon can stay healthy, it could be his best year yet.
“Once that happens, you can’t as an athlete worry about (another injury),” White said. “If you do, you won’t play to your capability. You just gotta go out there and play and hope nothing bad happens.”
Javuntae Holley & Christian Nelson, running backs
Despite being just sophomores, both Holley and Nelson carried the load for Dadeville’s run game a year ago and they’ll bring that experience back this year. Holley is also going to be play slot receiver, but they’ll both run the ball as the Tigers will try to establish a rushing attack early.
“They’re young and athletic,” White said. “They’ve got a year of varsity football under their belts and I’m looking for them to be better than they were last year.”
Cooper Childers, wide receiver
One of the areas White is most confident in is his wide receiver group as it’s laden with senior talent, and that starts with Childers.
“He’s probably one of the better receivers that we have,” White said. “He’s got great hands. He makes difficult catches look easy and makes easy catches look difficult.”
Childers’ role may expand this year as well. White said he’s going to try Childers out at safety and see how he transitions into that role.
Dadeville’s season begins Aug. 22 at home against Horseshoe Bend.