Saturday, May 24, 2014
Cross Trojan football coach Shaun Wright has an unenviable task facing him this summer – how to replace his trio of running backs Devontae Shepherd, and the Evans twins, Dionte and Diamonte. Wright's Big Three running backs led the Trojans to the 2012 Class A State Championship.
All three have left the building via graduation.
Now Cross must find three able backs to fill the 4, 5 and 9 jerseys.
But such is life in high school sports, especially at a small school like Cross, and the Trojans must prepare for a tough 2014 season.
“Practice has been pleasing in the fact that the young players have bought in and they want to be the best they can be” Wright said. “We are a very young team but we have good size up front and we are bigger in the backfield.”
Wright knows the next two months will pass quickly and August will be here all too quickly. The Trojans open their season Aug. 29 against defending state champions Hunter-Kinard-Tyler followed by their annual rivalry matchup with Timberland.
“This summer will be important for us as we have probably our toughest schedule we have had here,” said Wright.
The Trojans hope to improve on a 6-6 record and a second round exit from the playoffs last fall as Wright begins his sixth season at the helm of the Cross football program. Wright enjoys a 38-23 overall record and a 2012 Class A state title since taking over the coaching reins in 2009.
The spring game scrimmage didn't reveal any glaring surprises.
“I thought we were a little sloppy with the ball but that is to be expected. The good thing about this team is we are starting to develop depth. Position battles will go through the summer and scrimmages.”
New faces and new stars though, are beginning to replace the old. Jamar Matthews and Roger Ravenell both played well under center and each can expect to get their fair share of reps over the summer and into the fall. Plus, Wright expects big things from his defense.
“I thought Jamar threw the ball well but so did Roger,” he said. “We have a chance to be special on defense but it's going to take a lot of commitment from the players and. coaches.”
Up front the Trojans turn control of the trenches over to Isaiah Hampton and Malcolm Garrett on both sides of the ball.
“Both of those guys are 290 a piece,” Wright said. “Our linebackers look strong as they are led by T.J. Meyers and Tryin Footman. We will use the summer to gel and work on fundamentals and hopefully we can be competitive come August 29th.”