By Erik Harris
PINSON – Pinson Valley’s defense, much like its offense, will look to an experienced front line to lead the way.
Cornerback Jay Woods is the only returning starter in the secondary, which will be the primary position head coach Matt Glover will direct this season. Glover has focused on the Indians’ linebacker corps in the past.
With inexperienced defensive backs dropping into coverage, Glover hopes his defensive line, led by upcoming senior Josh Jemison, can apply pressure early and often in 2015.
“Our D-line is really going to be strong for us this year, probably as strong as it’s ever been since I’ve been at Pinson,” said Glover prior to his seventh year at Pinson Valley. “With our D-front, I think we can be just as good [as last year’s unit], because it all starts up front.”
Glover’s prediction is bold considering his defensive unit only allowed 17.1 points per game last season, which ranked the Indians first among Class 6A, Region 6 defenses.
“I don’t know if we’ll be as good to start out the year, but I think by the end of the year we’ll come along,” Glover said. “They just have to get some game experience and after that, I think we’ll be fine.”
Replacing All-Tribune players like linebackers Deon Gregory and Nathan Cunningham along with cornerback/return specialist Juray Smith will be no small task for Pinson Valley, especially through early contests against Hartselle and Oneonta.
Woods, a South Alabama verbal, is in line to replace Smith as the Indians’ top cover corner. Smith’s return duties on special teams will be filled by converted quarterback Errius Collins.
“[Collins] is not a 6’5” kid, but he’s just so athletic,” Glover said. “He’s got that cockiness about him that makes good receivers. He’s really a vital key to our offense and our team this year.”
Pinson Valley will get a boost at linebacker with senior Deevon Scarbrough returning to the field this season. Scarbrough started for Glover as a sophomore, but missed his junior campaign due to an injury sustained off the field.
With him and upcoming junior Zapeth Cunningham returning at linebacker, the Indians should have plenty of quickness backing a strong defensive line.
“Our defense is faster than past defenses that we’ve had, so I think we’ll be able to fly around more and get to the ball quicker,” senior defensive lineman D.J. Gregory said.