Charles Henderson gears up for spring game

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Charles Henderson Trojans are coming into the home stretch of 2023 spring football practices with the annual spring game this weekend.

Charles Henderson will match up with Class 7A’s Hewitt-Trussville Huskes in the main event of the C-Spire/Troy Cable Spring Classic at Veterans Memorial Stadium. With a number of Trojan athletes competing in baseball and track this spring, this week has been the first full practices with all Trojans in attendance.

“It’s been going pretty good,” CHHS Coach Quinn Hambrite said of practices. “We got all of our guys back from track last week and we got all of our baseball guys back the week before. So, we finally have a full team and we’ve been locked in for the most part.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We just have to get mentally tough when it comes to being coached hard and making plays and not giving up plays. Other than that, we’ve been flying around. Our first play of practice on Monday, Jy’won (Boyd) knocked someone’s helmet off and the ball went the other way and I think that was a big tone-setter for us.”

Boyd is one of a number of Charles Henderson veterans that return from last season’s 5A Runner-Up, including all-state edge rusher Zion Grady and All-Messenger quarterback Parker Adams. There have been some new and young faces that have stood out during the spring, however.

“One guy that’s standing out is Dertavious Lee, whose a senior that just came back to the team. He’s done an exceptional job for us, so far,” Hambrite said. “Kameron Johnson is a rising junior that has done an exceptional job in learning and catching balls. On the eighth grade side, Owen Pugh is a receiver that has been shocking everyone with his amazing catches in traffic and getting open.

“He’ll be a guy that may gets some varsity reps this year. We have to get him in the weight room and build some muscle mass on him but he’ll be a great player for us in the future.”

While Adams is the entrenched returning starter at quarterback, Hambrite has been pleased to see the competition behind him.

“Kellen (Stewart) is our young quarterback and he’s done an exceptional job as far as learning the system,” Hambrite said. “Blake Lowery is the other quarterback and I think he sees the pressure of knowing he has a young guy behind him that is really good and he has to step up his game and he’s been really solid, too. Everything is earned around here and I think it’s been a good battle for that backup quarterback spot.”

A spot that will see a new starter this season is middle linebacker as all-state player Damien Hart will be playing in college next season. His expected replacement, though, will actually be a familiar face.

“Jalen Suddith played defensive end for us and now he’ll be there at middle linebacker and he’s wearing No. 8 this year like Damien did, too,” Hambrite said. “He’s a smart kid and one of the most athletic kids on the team and that’s why he had as many sacks as he did last year.”

Suddith was second on the Trojans with 10 sacks in 2022 along with 63 tackles and 16 tackles-for-loss. Suddith and five-star college prospect Zion Grady will anchor a returning defensive front seven that may be one of the most experienced in the state.

“With Jalen being so athletic he can play that spot (at middle linebacker) and Brandon (Givens) is also coming back at linebacker and that helps us with that experience,” he said. “Everyone in that front seven played last year and got significant playing time. Each one of them was a starter at some point and a lot of them are three-year starters. That experience itself helps us.”

This is the second year in a row that the Trojans have faced off against a 7A opponent in the spring game after defeating R.E. Lee last season. Hewitt-Trussville is coming off an 8-4 season last year and the Huskies have won 26 games in the past three seasons. Leading the way for Hewitt-Trussville is returning all-state quarterback Peyton Floyd. Floyd also won 7A Back of the Year in 2022 after throwing for 2,413 yards and 25 touchdowns along with rushing for 706 yards and 16 scores.

“I want to see our guys compete, that’s the name of the game this spring,” Hambrite said. “You go into the spring not knowing but kind of knowing. You know what you have back from last year but not those (young) guys that can step up this year. We want to see how they play under the pressure of going against someone at or above their level.

“If they handle that pressure, then we’ll be solid heading into the summer and fall and if they don’t, then we’ll have to make those needed adjustments as coaches. You keep a score for a reason, to win the game, but the spring isn’t about that. No matter what people say, spring is about getting better and seeing what you have so you can make the proper adjustments heading into the season.”

Charles Henderson and Hewitt-Trussville will kickoff at 6 p.m. this Saturday, May 12, at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy.