The Bradwell Tigers coaching staff agrees that the 2009 squad can be summed up in one word: young. The team has eight senior starters, two junior starters and one sophomore who will rejoin the huddle with varsity experience. The rest, according to the coaches, are young players who need to step up in order to make the team successful.
The Tigers spent the week preparing for the upcoming season by conditioning and running drills in the mornings, hitting the weightroom in the afternoons and working on plays and fundamentals in the evenings.
"We are going to have to ask some guys to step up and play this year," defensive coordinator Jeff Miller said. "Last year, we were a veteran team with a lot of guys returning from the year before. We already had a lot of experience so when it came time to do game time adjustments it was easy. Now we are going to have to start from day one making sure we cover every aspect of what they are going to see in a game and in practice."
Offensive linemen coach and assistant offensive coordinator Adam Byrie said his line is relatively new with the exception of Ulrick John. Lacking sufficient depth on the bench, Bryie said the players coming up from the junior varsity squad and those with game experience from last season will carry the brunt of the workload.
"The only two guys who are going to get a lot of rest on offense are the quarterback and full back positions," Bryie said. "Everybody is going to have to be iron-man. We are going to try and get our best players on the field especially in crucial games in crucial times."
The Tigers’ offense will be led by three seniors: Wilson Brown at quarterback, Sheldon Barnes at running back and Ulrick John at center.
"Those are the guys who play up the middle for us and that is where we are the strongest," Bryie said. "Those three guys have played for the past three years and those are the three guys we are going to count on."
Brown said he is prepared to lead by example and take the time during practice to teach the younger players what it takes to win. He said he knows this season will present challenges but said having a solid running back helps.
"It feels good to know you have a player you can always rely on," Brown said of Barnes. "We work well together so it works out especially with a young team."
The Tigers start the season with two away games against non-region Glynn Academy and Wayne County on Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, respectively. They play their home opener against Houston County on Sept. 11. Game times are 7:30 p.m.