Spain Park head coach Shawn Raney has nothing against his team throwing the football around the field. It just wouldn’t be a solid plan with running backs Wade Streeter and Larry Wooden lined up behind a pair of inexperienced quarterbacks.
“It’s not going to be [like] when [current Southern Miss quarterback] Nick Mullens was here and we ask them to throw 50 times,” Raney said. “Hopefully we can run 50 times and take some pressure off the quarterback, and when we throw it, we can get some big plays in the passing game and play action off of that.”
It sounds like a good plan with the return of Streeter, a senior, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior, and Wooden, a junior, who contributed as a sophomore. Raney calls the pair of running backs “the backbone of our offense.”
If Spain Park has a successful season, then Raney’s team could be headed back to the Class 7A playoffs after missing the postseason last year.
Senior Joey Beatty should get first crack at playing quarterback for the Jaguars, but junior Hunter Howell is not far behind. Howell is more of a drop back quarterback while Beatty throws and runs the ball with equal success. Beatty gets the nod because of an extra year in the program.
Both quarterbacks will be helped by a solid offensive line that in anchored by seniors Grey Best and Johnathan Mote and junior Bredt Stover. “The other two positions we’ve got multiple guys we’re sliding in and trying out,” Raney said. “We have a good foundation with those three.”
Receiver is filled with question marks, but Raney said the Jaguars are talented in that spot. Leaders could be seniors Bridge Suber and Parker Kelly and junior Thomas Jordan. It will help the passing game that opposing defenses are focused on slowing down Streeter and Wooden.
The good news is that the front seven is filled with experience, talent and depth. Jonah Tibbs enters his third season as a starter while Douglas Henze, Damon Wright and Will Dailey are also returning starters. Markell Clark, a 6-foot, 280-pound transfer from Georgia, will make an impact. At linebacker, the Jags have experience with returning starters Houston Hollis and Perry Young. Hollis started last year as a sophomore and Young has college offers from Arkansas State, Southern Miss and others.
What is troubling for the Jags, however, is a secondary that features no experience. Raney thinks that group will be fine with some seasoning but might go through some tough times early in the season.
“I think that’s where we’re going to have to start [on the defensive line] as far as building around,” Raney said. “Hopefully they can sack the quarterback before he throws it on us — at least early in the season.”
Tyler Sumpter, who has a scholarship offer from Troy, returns as the team’s kicker and punter. But he’ll share time with junior Crosby Gray. Raney said his team also had an excellent long snapper in Martin Daugherty.