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Blue Tide Complete Spring Training
WR Ricky Rivera catches a ball during spring training. - photo by Mike Riddle / Coastal Courier
LUDOWICI -- The Long County Blue Tide football team completed spring training Friday, and according to head coach Kyle Wilson the team is looking good for next year.
"We've had some great practices. Our kids are out there hitting," he said. "I would have to say that we are better this year, than we were last year at this same time."
Last year the Tide won more games than they had in the team's short history by going 4-6, and they are looking to improve on that mark.
"Basically we'll be running the same offense, but we will be changing our defense to a 3-5, looking to use our speed on the line," Wilson said.
The lines on both sides of the ball are where the team was weakest last year. It was made up primarily of freshman and sophomores. But according to Wilson, with what he has seen in spring training, both sides will be better next year.
On the offense, the only returning starter will be junior Chris Banks, but Wilson said he will probably have at least one senior on the line and sophomore Caleb Bailey and a transfer student Blake Boyer Jr. will be seeing a lot of playing time.
"The line will be a year older and have some experience under their belt, so we should be better than we were last year," the coach said.
On defense, the line will change to a 3-5 set with three down line men and five defensive backs. One key player who Wilson is depending on to be the leader on that side of the ball is middle linebacker, senior Eric Hadley. Others to look for on the defense are senior Adam Curtis and juniors Omar Castro and Barnaby Guadalupe.
One big change from this year to last is the loss of running back Prince Moody and quarterback Justin Boyd. Moody is graduating this year, and according to Wilson, Boyd has indicated he will not play football.
"Our quarterback looks like it will be Jake Durham and our tailback will be Preston Cunningham," the coach said.
"Jake is a gifted athlete and a leader on the field. He's done a great job this spring, and I know he can run the offense and will do a good job," Wilson said.
One skill position where the coach knows he is deep is at wide receiver. Returning senior starters Ricky Rivera and Stevie Harrison will bring in the majority of the catches, but junior Donte Brown will get his share of the snags too.
"I expect Ricky (Rivera) and Jake (Durham) to be the key leaders on the offense and Eric (Hadley) on the defense," Wilson said.
One area that the coach has stressed has been summer weightlifting and conditioning.  
He also said he is continuing to instill values in his players, "Good character and doing the right thing, and making the right decisions, that's what I will always stress to my players along with their summer conditioning"
The Blue Tide will add two unfamiliar teams to their schedule this year as they take on the Benedictine Cadets from Savannah and the Tattnall County Battle Creek Warriors from Reidsville.
"We won four games this year, and you always want to win every game, but anything less than seven wins and making the playoffs is unacceptable," the coach said.

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