By David Knox
TRUSSVILLE — No Connor Adair dicing up defenses at quarterback, no Grayson Cash as a multi-threat receiver and rusher, no spectacular Noah Igbinoghene moments catching the ball and running away from defenders.
Lots of holes to fill for Josh Floyd and the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies as spring football practice wrapped up. At least it seemed that way.
After a dismantling of Tennessee power Cordova in the spring game at Jacksonville State by a 45-26 count, every Huskies fan had to feel optimistic about the 2017 season.
Floyd felt good too as he talked about the accomplishments of the spring period.
“We obviously lost some good players from last year, some good three-year starters,” Floyd said, “that’s been our biggest concern. We knew we’d have some young guys, talented guys, players who even if they weren’t young, they hadn’t had a lot of Friday night experience.”
Although, the aforementioned departures are skill players, offensive line was probably a bigger concern. Led by Pierce Quick, a four-star Alabama commitment, and two-year starter Ben Adams, the line made some strides in the spring.
“I was really pleased with our offensive line. I think they came a long way,” Floyd said. “One of the things about o-line play is there’s a certain chemistry you have to find and I think we got there in a lot of ways.”
Spring is an evaluation period too, making sure players are in positions they’ll succeed in and help the team. It’s also about players making strides over their time in the program.
“Sam Penque is a guy who’ll be a senior next year that stepped up this spring on the o-line. Really proud of him. He’s a guy that’s worked hard and been in the program and just really exciting to see him come on and have a great spring.”
At the offensive skill positions, if the newcomers perform as well as they did in the spring game, there will be a lot fewer worries about the playmakers who moved on to their Division I futures.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Floyd said. “Even though we lost Grayson and Noah, and Christian Stewart, too, we’ve got some young guys we’re really excited about.”
Dazalin Worsham, a rising sophomore receiver, caught four passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He’s already picked up offers from UAB and Jacksonville State. Classmate Malachi Moore also has big promise, and they join veteran receivers Logan Pitts and Lee Reagan.
Quarterback Paul Tyson was 15-for-21 passing for 263 yards and three touchdowns against Cordova. Bear Bryant’s great-grandson already holds offers from Kentucky, Army, UConn and Jacksonville State.
“Paul had a great spring, was really pleased with how he played. I think he got his timing down better with the receivers. Grey Ryle had a great spring and he’s a guy we’ve got to get the ball to. He’s a guy who will probably play some quarterback, some receiver, some running back, we even had him some on defense in the spring. He’s just a football player.”
Starting running back Elliott McElwain led the backs along with Antonio Reed, and rising junior Cameron Bledsoe was impressive in the spring.
“Cameron was not a surprise to us, but might have been to some other people. He’s gotten bigger, faster, stronger. He’s a natural running back, sees it, understands our system really well. He’s going to be great. Probably the most natural running back we have.”
The defense lost big Christian Smith in the middle of the line, but there are some returning players who started or got significant playing time. Against Cordova, linebacker Simon Miskelley was a standout, and overall the Huskies seemed aggressive and forced the issue.
“Simon had a great spring and is the leader of our defense,” Floyd said. “And I was pleased with our guys up front. Hunter Davis is a returning starter and Maurice Williams is a guy who played some last year and he stepped up. Christian Renda was a part-time starter for us at defensive end and Tyler Antkowiak played really well this spring. He’s gotten a lot bigger. He’s about 6-5, 210 right now, probably will keep gaining weight. He’s a big threat on the edge. And J.P. Roberson was a guy who really stepped up this spring at linebacker.”
The veteran secondary includes both safeties back, TJ Alexander and Trevor Sisk, and the staff is happy with how they performed. “Creed Parker had a great spring. He played a lot last year and he makes a lot of plays. He’s just a football player.”
Parker Colburn will do all the kicking and is coming off a good spring and a great sophomore season.
All in all, Floyd and his staff feel a lot got accomplished in the spring.
“I think coming together as a team was the best thing we accomplished this spring, and you can’t totally measure that. Becoming a family, and guys that care about each other and want to help each other. That’s a big part of it.
“We lost 29 seniors,” Floyd said. “That’s a big group. This team has to find its own identity, and I think we got closer to that. The next step is this summer. Guys selling out this summer and being committed, and I’m looking forward to summer workouts.”