TAD football team should be contender

By Wes Holtsclaw


   After a 2001 championship campaign in the Middle Seven Conference, the T.A. Dugger Junior Cyclones are ready to tear up the Intermountain Conference and do good things in 2002.
   With a new conference name and a few changes all around, the Junior Cyclones take the field with new head coach John Oakley. Oakley believes his team is tuned up for the upcoming season.
   "We ought to be good this year," said Oakley. "These kids were good as seventh graders, and they should be pretty competitive. We have high hopes, but you never know until you get playing."
   Heading the offense for the Junior Cyclones this season is Preston Smith, who is experienced at the quarterback position and should do good things for TAD.
   Austin Taylor, Nick McNeil and Brent Shaver will be turning it up at the tailback position, while Josh Hutchins will be paving the way at fullback.
   McNeil is coming out for the first time this season, and is expected to be a surprise on the team.
   "I have to run the ball real well and get some yards for us," said McNeil. "We hope to win some ball games. The team is real nice, and the line blocks good. We are a good blocking team."
   Hutchins will be a motivator at the fullback slot, but is expected to be in his prime at the linebacker position.
   "We have a good defense," said Hutchins. "We are smart, maybe smarter than last year. We hope to go all the way this year. We gotta stop the ball and not let many people by us."
   Weston Issacs will start at the receiver position, while Drew Hyder and Andrew Kennedy will hold the slot end and tight end spots.
   The offensive and defensive line will be a strong point for TAD this season. Josh Arnold, Travis Bishop, Zack Potter, Chase Turley and "Big" William Johnson will hold down the front.
   Johnson, Arnold and Potter are taking charge with leadership roles this season. Potter and Johnson hope to be a force up front.
   "I hope we can make blocks for our backs," said Potter. "We've got to make holes and try to win. We'll do good this year, we have a solid team. We have a chance to go all the way."
   Said Johnson: "I've just got to do better than last year; do the best that I can. We look to our explosive running game this year, some goal line offense, swarming defense and pancake blocks.
   "We've got to beef up and get a good performance out of the line. Without the guys up front, you are nothing."
   Josh Guinn, Brent Shaver, A.J. Burke. Trinity Allen and Chris Hubbard will see some quality time this season, and are expected to be big performers.
   The conference will be tough as always for TAD, and Coach Oakley believes it will come down to each week's preparation.
   "It will be like it usually is," said Oakley. "John Sevier is the toughest, Vance and Science Hill are good. Everybody in it is decent -- there is nobody to overlook. We have to be ready for everyone like Church Hill, who was the only team to beat us last year."
   Oakley believes his offense will be more spread out, but will miss a runner like Aaron Bray.
   "Some games we might run every play, others we might pass 50 percent of the time," he said. "We don't have that Bray type. We have a lot of good backs, just no outstanding backs. Josh Guinn and Nick McNeil will be big surprises this year."
   If things fall into play, it looks like another successful year for the Junior Cyclones.
   T.A. Dugger opens its season on the road Sept. 3 against Vance Middle School in Bristol. Game time is 6 p.m.