Smiley embracing new role in Bulldog offense

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In August of 2012, Stevie Smiley was adjusting to a new variation to an old position, and in 2013 he finds himself backtracking those steps made last season.

Smiley lined up at tight end for the Pike County Bulldogs a season ago, and became of the team’s go-to receivers.

This season, with new offensive coordinator Mike Waters, Smiley will “go back to what I know,” and line up in the slot at split end.

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“It took some getting used to last season moving to tight end,” Smiley said with laugh. “I had experience out wide with the coaches that were here before, so it was kind of like going home.”

Smiley, all six-feet-three inches of him, starred not only on the football field for the Bulldogs, but also on the hardwood of the basketball court.

It was during the basketball season, under the tutelage of coach Doug Branson, that Smiley began to use his size and athleticism to his advantage.

“I am just starting to realize that I have the ability to do a lot of things to help this football team,” Smiley said. “I have grown in to my self. Over the last couple of years I have matured, and finally see how I am supposed to play.

In Waters’ version of the spread, Smile will be used a “possession receiver,” as well as blocker on run plays.

The hitch and “sticks” routes, shorter, more compact pass plays, allow for Smiley to use his height more.

“The sticks are my bread and butter,” Smiley said. “I come off the line like I am running a fade, and get the right distance, then put my foot in the ground to get separation. I have to get big and use my wingspan and shoulders to bring in the ball.”

Fred Holland, Pike County head coach, feels that Smiley will help the team in a variety of ways this season.

“Stevie has worked hard to get where he is,” said Holland. “He is a big target to throw to, and is always around the ball on defense. He will be one of our leaders this year.”

Smiley will play on the defensive line, and handle the majority of the kicking duties for the Bulldogs this fall, in addition to his receiving responsibilities.

However, Pike County quarterback Jerrel Lawson hopes Smiley doesn’t forget where “home” is.

“I know that if I get it anywhere near him (Smiley) he will have a chance to catch it,” Lawson said. “Stevie is going to give you all he has, and it will be great to have him catching passes this season.”

Pike County will meet Charles Henderson in a scrimmage game Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, and then open the regular season at home against Goshen on Aug. 30.

Until then, Smiley and the rest of the Bulldogs will keep working on getting better.

“We have to get better everyday,” said Smiley. “We have to be willing to outwork everyone else, and I know we will.”