By Gary Lloyd
Pinson Valley this season is replacing 17 of 22 starters from a year ago, but this team is head coach Matt Glover’s favorite.
Glover said despite this team’s youth — 20 juniors and 29 sophomores — it is a grownup team, a squad that has bought in to the coaching staff’s philosophy.
“I am sure that we will have our growing pains, but I really like this football team and how they have worked this summer,” Glover said.
This Pinson Valley team will run the ball a lot more and run play-action plays, playing to the strengths of junior running back Nick Gibson and senior quarterback Brooks Garrett. The departures of former offensive standouts Earnest Robinson, Harry Mason and A.J. Freeman, among others, will be tough.
The defensive side of the ball lost some standouts, too, in linebacker Zach Cunningham and defensive backs Jeffrey Blair and Mondeno Gibson, among others.
“It is going to be very hard to replace the guys that we lost because a lot of them were three-year starters,” Glover said. “The hardest part about replacing those guys is the game experience that they had.”
Offensive players that will play key roles this season include Garrett, Gibson, a bigger offensive line than a year ago, senior tight end Dylan Evans and junior running back Tyree Watson. On defense, senior linebacker Elijah Bibbs will play a key role, as will junior linebacker Deon Gregory, senior linebacker Austin Humphrey and others.
This year’s coaching staff features all new offensive coaches, Glover said. Logan Colafrancesco, Pinson Valley’s offensive coordinator in 2010, is back in the same position this season after spending the past two seasons as Enterprise’s wide receivers coach.
Glover said at last month’s media day in Gardendale that he thinks Pinson Valley “can be a dominant football team.”
“I don’t know really what to expect out of this group because of the lack of playing experience but if they play like they have practiced, we will have a chance to be successful.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.