Xavier Mitchell-Brown (copy)

Cane Bay quarterback Xavier Mitchell-Brown carries against the Berkeley Stags last season.

Cane Bay High School’s football team got back on the practice field this month and will put the finishing touches on spring practice on Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m.

Last year, the Cobras finished second in Region 7-AAAAA behind Berkeley and advanced to the Class 5A playoffs. They lost nearly 30 seniors, including five of their top seven rushers and nine of the top 10 tacklers on the other side of the ball.

“Spring practice for us is a chance to recruit our own kids,” Cane Bay coach Russell Zehr said. “We try to find some kids walking around the school that didn’t play last year and see if they’ll give it a shot. We’ve got some kids out we didn’t know about. We’ll see who sticks with it.”

The Cobras, who run an option offense, have some key pieces back on offense, including two quarterbacks with some experience. Rising senior quarterback Alex Mart and rising sophomore Xavier Mitchell-Brown got more work than anticipated in 2018 when starter Darius Bey suffered a season-ending injury in October.

Mart rushed for 445 yards and three touchdowns while Mitchell-Brown added 230 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

On the front, rising senior center Cameron Curry and rising junior guard Malachi Jones are starters. Rising senior Austin Wallace is the other most experienced lineman.

Rising senior receiver Andre Green is a returning starter but may be moving over to defensive back to deal with heavy turnover in the secondary.

It’s not uncommon for players to get looks at other positions in the spring. Green is one of a few working at a new spot.

“He’s doing really well for us,” Zehr said. “He could easily go back to receiver and know what to do.”

Rising senior Marquile Burgess has some starts at receiver, too.

For the defense, rising senior defensive back Jurrien Mitchell (49), rising senior defensive tackle Zyke Johnson (29) and rising senior defensive tackle Lateef Sharpe (23.5) are the top defenders set to return.

“We’ve got to get more kids ready to play and create more depth,” Zehr said. “It’s hard to make it through a 5A season without depth. We’ve got to close the gap between our No. 1’s and No. 2’s.”

Spring practice gives way to summer workouts and 7 on 7’s in June. The Cobras host passing days on the mornings of June 6, 13, 20 and 27. Depending on expected temperatures, each starts at 10 a.m.

“We have to get the reps in the offseason,” Zehr said. “What gives us a chance is the work we put in in the weight room. We put a big priority on getting stronger and faster. You have to at this level of football.”