The Valdosta Daily Times
The Lowndes Vikings officially began spring football practice Monday.
The Vikings practiced for well over 2 1/2 hours in the 90-plus degree heat, and according to head coach Randy McPherson the day went well.
In the full-team portion of practice, Lowndes’ offense seemed to have a clear advantage over the defense, although McPherson said there were very few times all 11 defensive starters were on the field at the same time.
“We were playing a bunch of kids that hadn’t played,” McPherson said. “I don’t know if we had our best 11 over there at any one time.”
Offensively, Lowndes is in the search of finding a new quarterback that will replace one-year starter Lance Jarriel. Two candidates emerged from Monday’s practice: senior Alex Stephenson and junior Seth Carlo, both of whom have prior starting experience at the position.
“They have more experience,” McPherson said of his two quarterbacks. “They are working real hard there.”
Carlo served as the junior varsity quarterback in 2011, while Stephenson began last season as the starting quarterback for the Valdosta Wildcats, and recorded a 4-0 record before a foot injury sidelined him for three weeks. Upon his return, Stephenson moved to second string to backup Shelby Wilkes, who threw touchdown passes in the final minute to beat the Vikings in the 2011 Winnersville Classic.
Along with Stephenson and Carlo, sophomore’s Parker Bonner and Evan Folsom saw action at quarterback.
When asked if he plans on naming starters at certain positions following spring practice, McPherson said it isn’t a bad thing to leave certain things open, saying there is a long time until the Vikings’ 2012 season opener, which will come Aug. 30 when they host Luella at Martin Stadium.
“Hopefully, we can have everything cleared up,” said McPherson. “But I don’t think it is going to be a negative thing. I mean you have 10 practices. There is a lot of room between now and Aug. 30 when we play...That is a long time.”
As for what the offense will look like in 2012, the Vikings were seen in multiple formations during Monday’s practice. According to McPherson, Lowndes will do “whatever it takes” to win games in the coming season.
“Hopefully, we will be able to throw the ball well,” McPherson added. “I feel really good about our running game. The offensive line had a really good first day.”
Defensively, nothing has really changed for the Vikings, although McPherson said the unit has added a few more coverage’s and blitz’s to its already deep playbook.
McPherson said he is looking to his rising senior class to become leaders for the Vikings’ football team, which was ousted in the second round of last years state playoffs by eventual state champion Grayson. In particular, McPherson said is looking at running back Nick Burgman, offensive linemen Trevor Scarborough and Anfernee Chandler, running back and defensive back Tiquan Lang and linebacker Tre’ Jackson.
Monday also marked Lowndes’ first practice with two new coaching additions.
Both Tyrone Lucas and Taz Dixon have joined the Lowndes coaching staff, both of whom served under Rance Gillespie at Valdosta High School last season. Lucas, a defensive line coach, will work with the freshman team in 2012, while Dixon was seen coaching the defensive backs, along with coach Kipp Burdette, during Monday’s practice.
“We are glad to have (Taz),” said McPherson. “You know, he started with us a couple of years ago at Hahira Middle. He definitely brings a lot to the table.”
The Vikings did suffer one noteable injury in Monday’s practice, as a player was carted off and raced to the hospital in an ambulance with an apparent broken leg. He was seen back at the practice field on crutches later in the day.
Lowndes will hold its spring game May 15, while its crosstown rival Valdosta will open its spring practice next Monday.