Cyclones looking good in early workouts

By Allen LaMountain
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
alamountain@starhq.com

   With the coming of spring comes the end of the school year, but for prep football it is a time to get together for some fine-tuning practice sessions. It's a time for coaches to see who wants to play and who doesn't have the dedication to put in the extra time.
   Teams can practice in uniform for the next few weeks, but the players can continue to work on their game all summer, as EHS will keep it's weight room open for players to work with weights in preparation for the coming season in the fall.
   "The first official day in pads is August 30," said Cyclones head coach Tommy Jenkins. "We'll work out in shorts for three days before that, but we will work out all summer. As long as they aren't in uniform, and we'll have a schedule when the weight room will be available for the kids to use."
   The Cyclones also plan some 'passing leagues' against Sullivan North and any local team that wants to participate. "It's pretty low-key, just passing drill and such. No real contact, it's touch football basically, but it allows us to practice route running and get timing down."
   The Cyclones come off a season that saw them get to the Regional game at the Stone Castle where they dropped an overtime contest to the Tennessee High Vikings, but EHS returns several key players to a team that got better as the season wore on.
   "Justin Grace, our fullback, is a tough hard-nosed kid. Ryan (Curtis) is throwing the ball well and Walter Brown is a talent on both sides of the ball," commented Jenkins. "Our defensive line will be young this year, but the kids have a lot of enthusiasm."
   One concern for EHS is that receiver/safety Michael Porter may need an arthroscopic procedure for a knee that has bothered him since basketball season. Porter is scheduled to see the doctor on Friday, but as Porter said, "I want to get it done now so I can be ready when we start practice in August."
   Porter will play a bigger role this season in the Cyclone passing game with the graduation of Neal Wandell. It will be up to Porter to step into Wandell's shoes, offensively and defensively, and put up some decent numbers, which he is very capable of doing.
   Lester Bailey will play a variety of positions, including seeing some time in the EHS backfield to spell Brown occasionally. Bailey, who possesses blazing speed, will be an asset for Betsy wherever he plays.
   Mitchell Bowers will compete with Grace for the fullback slot, which is a plus for Jenkins. "I wish we had that kind of competition at all positions. Competition brings out the best in both players, and the thing about it is that the player decides if he plays or not, depending on how he performs in competition."
   Of course, one of the big keys to the success of the Cyclones as a whole this season will come from Vince Redd, who is ranked as the top prep prospect in Tennessee, and according to Jenkins is, "Ranked in the top 20 prep players in the Nation. But through it all Vince remains Vince. On pure ability he has no limits, he can go as far as he wants to, but he remains what he has always been, and that's an even keeled, humble guy."
   Another key will be the quarterback spot, where Curtis enters his senior season. Curtis got off to a slow start last season as he battled injuries until about mid-season. From that point on Curtis was the top quarterback in the conference, displaying the accuracy and touch that had eluded him in the early portion of the season due to the hand injury.
   "It's hard when you start out hurt," Jenkins said. "He had to wear padded splints and it was detrimental to his passing. He is throwing well and seems to be healthy and making good decisions. We are going to help him in that area as the coaches will call more of the plays and check-offs. We are also going to run some no-huddle offense."
   It's too early to make any prognostications at this point, but the Cyclones will not lack speed, skill-position depth or leadership this coming season.