By Gary Lloyd
Hewitt-Trussville head football coach Hal Riddle said at last week’s Jefferson and Shelby County High School Football Media Day in Gardendale that the Huskies will be faster this season on offense.
The offensive line won’t be as big, especially at the right guard position, vacated by three-year starter Carson Cooper, a 6-foot-6, 330-pounder now playing at Mississippi College.
“We’re going to be OK,” Riddle said. “We’re just not going to be as big.”
Riddle said Hewitt-Trussville, which posted a 4-6 record last season and missed the Class 6A state playoffs for the first time since 2006, won’t be a team that lines up and pounds the ball between the tackles 45 times per game. He said the offense will need to spread the field a little bit and pass the ball, though running the football remains a key.
In 2011, Hewitt-Trussville was led by quarterback Carr Tigner, who rushed 218 times for 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns. He threw for 995 yards and just six touchdowns. That same season, running back Jake Wilks, now at Samford, rushed for 810 yards and 16 touchdowns. Dakota Harwell and others got the bulk of the carries a season ago.
“In the past, we’ve had guys that can just about do it all,” said senior running back Peyton Palmer. They can run outside, they can run inside. They have power, they have speed.”
Palmer, at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, is a bit different.
“I think I can come out of the slot, catch a couple passes,” he said.
The battle for the starting quarterback position is ongoing between senior Blake Bailey and sophomore Zach Thomas. Bailey, a transfer from rival Clay-Chalkville, was Hayden Moore’s backup a season ago, completing 6-of-13 passes for 38 yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Riddle said Bailey did not participate in spring drills due to playing baseball. He throws the ball “extremely well” and has good experience, Riddle said. Thomas is an “extremely talented” quarterback with a good arm and who runs the ball well, Riddle said.
“We like that position right now,” Riddle said. “We’re just not settled there yet.”
Riddle said a goal for this team is to maximize its potential, to positively finish games that last season it didn’t quite do.
“We need to finish a series, we need to get a stop and get the defense off the field,” Riddle said. “We need to finish this series with a first down. We need to finish a game. Good teams do.”
Hewitt-Trussville’s last win came Oct. 26, 2012, a blowout home victory over Huffman. Huffman head coach Alex Wilson said that Huskies team was just a play or two away from being a playoff team.
“Hewitt-Trussville should be much improved,” he said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.