Whistles shrilled out across the track field at Bradwell Institute as the Tiger football team conducted summer conditioning activities last week.
Players leaned against tractor tires after taking turns flipping them across the field. The tires are heavy, and the players were spent and tired. Yet the Tigers looked determined to push through, with the next whistle indicating the start of a new drill.
“We started last week,” Tiger football coach Greg Hill said. “We’ve been hitting the weights and getting out here and running and getting used to the weather, and getting them prepared for the camps they will be attending.”
The team is looking forward to a new season in a new region this fall.
Hill said he is enthusiastic about the season ahead and that his team has already hit the ground running in terms of being prepared.
“Last Saturday I took the skill guys down to the Georgia Southern seven-on-seven camp,” Hill said. “It was good for us. We are not necessarily a passing team, but it put the emphasis on it, as well as putting the work in and the mindset of when we throw the ball we need to complete it. … It was good for them.”
Hill added that the Tiger linemen traveled to Middle Georgia for an offensive camp.
“They practiced three days a week. We’ve been busy,” the coach said, noting that the linemen returned a few days ago.
The Tigers are looking to break a pattern that saw them go 0-10 last year and 0-8 in Region 3-AAAAA.
As Hill said, the team’s offense does not depend upon its passing game. Last year, the offense completed 16 of 50 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. Leading the offense was Duane Johnson who completed 5 of 20 for 95 yards. As a freshman last season, second string Quarterback Quin McMassey completed 9 of 24 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
But the Tigers, historically, have done well on the ground. Last year’s record in no way reflects how successful the ground game was. The team rushed for 1,742 yards and eight touchdowns.
While the team will have to play without Luther Echols, who led in rushing last year but graduated, incoming juniors Kevin Harris and Imari Hurte were second and third on the team in rushing. Harris had 413 yards on 84 carries with one touchdown. Hurte had 164 yards and a touchdown.
Rising senior Christian Evans had 32 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. He led the team in receptions with six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Harris made three receptions for 27 yards.
Defensively, the Tigers will rely on senior Joshua Ingram. He ended last season first in total tackles with 52. In his career to date, he has 86 total tackles, including three for loss of yards, and has 44 yards in kick returns. Also returning is Alvin Roberts, who had 48 total tackles, and Isiah Quarterman, who also finished last year with 48.
Leading the return team this year will be Terrius Crimiel, who had 18 returns for 322 yards last year. To date, he has 759 return yards off 37 kicks.
This year, the remainder of the Tiger defense will be sophomores and juniors, but the team has a wealth of game experience, and Hill said the early start in spring and summer weight training should pay dividends.
Wednesday, the Tigers will go to the Ware County defensive camp.
“It’s a great camp and it gives our guys a chance to go up against some of the best players in the South,” Hill said.
Tiger players will start selling discount cards by June 29 to raise funds for their season.