Junior Bulldogs aim to build new winner

By Wes Holtsclaw

   After a third-place finish and a championship in the past two seasons, the Hampton Junior Bulldogs are again ready to build a winning product.
   Bbehind a strong offensive backfield and a host of young talent, Hampton coach Kelly Oliver is excited about this season.
   "We've improved every year I've been here," said Oliver. "We graduated the farm last year. Most of our team is seventh-graders, but they are good.
   "We've just got to be as competitive as we can, then we'll know that we're doing our job. But we're improving every day."
   The Hampton backfield will be led by seventh-grade halfback Dustin Jaynes. Jaynes is excited about the upcoming season.
   "We want to win the title," said Jaynes. "But we've got to go out and do the best that we can and go as far as we can."
   Jaynes will be taking a leadership position with the eighth graders on the team. He knows the work is cut out for him.
   "I've got to help try to keep them straight and help push them to do the best that they can and have fun," he said.
   Eighth-grader Jonathan Lyons will be stepping in at linebacker and quarterback for the Junior Bulldog squad.
   "We're looking pretty good," said Lyons. "We want to go as far as we can, and I want to just do my best and help out my team."
   Lyons will be joined at the quarterback spot by Dustin Milhorn; D.J. Oliver will also play a big role on the Hampton team.
   As far as new faces on the squad, none stick out as much as Stephen Roop (6-1, 298) on the offensive line.
   "This is the first year he's touched a ball," said Oliver. "But he's improved a lot since last week."
   Adam Townsend, Josh Irick, Jeremiah Tolley and James Hall will all be seeing some action in the Hampton lineup.
   "We are looking for some good things out of them," Olivers said. "We are just getting kids out daily. We have that shell in the backfield, we've just got to get the line ready."
   The caliber of competition in the Junior Watauga Conference will be much tighter this season than in previous years, and Hampton will be right up there with the others.
   "It's a good conference," Oliver said. "Instead of everybody fighting for second, everyone is fighting to win it. Nobody'll go undefeated this year."
   Jaynes is looking forward to getting on the field with some of the teams that defeated Hampton last year.
   "I'm looking forward to Happy Valley and Johnson County," said Jaynes, "We've got to play better than we did last year, play the best that we can, and hopefully we'll do well."