Goshen wraps up with Brantley

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 18, 2001

Sports Writer

GOSHEN – Injuries and lack of depth in the trenches are the biggest concern for the Goshen High School Eagles as they enter their final week of spring football practice starting Tuesday.

The Eagles will wind up drills next Friday when they host the Brantley High School Bulldogs in a jamboree. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium in Goshen.

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Following nine practice sessions over the last three weeks, the Eagles are down to only seven healthy linemen on both both sides of the ball. The Eagles lost sophomore offensive tackle Amos Wilcoxson to a sprained wrist and is questionable for the rest of the spring.

However, the Eagles received even worse injury news when fellow 10th grade tackle Derrick Simmons suffered a broken hand and is not expected to return until the fall when practice resumes on Monday, August 6.

Goshen head coach Joe Thornton said the Eagles will try to make the most

out of the situation despite the injury setbacks up front.

"It makes us want to play everybody in the spring in getting them to develop some depth for the fall by getting players more experience."

With the Eagles facing a little adversity as spring drills wind down, Thornton said it will not get his team down.

"I don’t feel like we’re getting the same type of leadership like we had this time last year," Thornton said. "But we also have a lot of positive things going for us."

A positive on the offensive line for the Eagles has been transition from tackle to center by sophomore Matt Qualls. At quarterback, Thornton said he likes the way senior Averick Rogers has improved throwing the ball with fellow classmate Quez Burden and junior Damien Pelton expected to back him him.

Thornton said he’s also been impressed with the running of tailbacks Burden and Jonathan Folmar along with fullback Tyrone Crawford. While the running back spots currently lack depth, Thornton said it will improve in the fall when junior fullback Raymond McNabb and tailback Clarence Bean return.

With the quality work displayed so far by

Pelton and senior wide receiver William Sanders, Thornton said he’s pleased with the progress of the passing game at this point. Among the other receivers who have seen lots of action this spring include newcomer Davin Pelton, Derrick Foster and Brandon Penny.

Defensively, Thornton said the linebackers and the defensive backs have stood out this spring with their speed and agility. At linebacker, Thornton said Crawford and Burden are making big strides on the inside because of their physical aggressiveness and passion for hitting people. At outside linebacker, Sanders gained up to 180 pounds and is handling the pass rushing position well after playing cornerback two years ago.

In the secondary, Thornton said Rogers and Pelton have looked good at cornerback while Jonathan Folmar has been solid at rover in Goshen’s 4-4 scheme.

Like the offensive line, however, Thornton said he has several concerns about the defensive line which lost all four starters from last year including three due to graduation.

"Our front people have to step up," Thornton said. "Our defensive line is a question mark except for Matt (at defensive end). "They need to work more in the weight room and improve their speed. A couple of guys have to lose some weight during the summer."

The kicking game though has been a big surprise for

the Eagles. Thornton said he’s been pleased with the punting, place kicking and kickoffs by Rogers

"His leg strength has surprised me," Thornton said. "He kicks the ball further the Jamar (Tucker’s) 38.6 yard average, so he’ll have a good leg punting for us."

While he’s pleased with the punt and kickoff coverage teams, Thornton said the long snappers and holders must develop after losing seniors Dan Garner and Barry Jones.

Among the priorities for the final week of spring practice Thornton mentioned include the young kids having a better knowledge of the basic offense and improving on fundamentals rather than learning more plays.

While the fans might be fired up about playing Brantley due to the rivalry, Thornton said

he’s not concerned about the Bulldogs.

"I’m not worried about Brantley, but I’m rather concerned about Goshen because we have big holes to fill," Thornton said. "The Brantley game is a reward for our kids working hard this spring."