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Dobyns-Bennett, Science Hill happy with spring football progress

Douglas Fritz • Jun 6, 2018 at 8:06 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett did things differently during their recent spring football practices, but both head coaches said they were pleased with the overall picture.

As the rivals headed into the summer phase of preparation for the upcoming high school football season, here’s a look at what happened during May.

Overall outlook

First-year D-B head coach Joey Christian said he liked what he saw.

“I thought we had a very productive spring,” said Christian. “The kids really bounced around, and I thought they practiced hard.”

Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said the defensive side of the football was a bright spot for his team.

“I felt like we had a real good spring, and we’ve got a lot of people back,” said Carter. “(Lineman) Jacob Abram is back, and that’s a big deal. We’ve got some linebackers back. We have some maturity, and we’re bigger and stronger. We are much improved on defense.”

Scrimmage choices

Science Hill scheduled a scrimmage against Knox West, while the Indians decided on intrasquad competition.

The Hilltoppers had their way against the Rebels, outscoring them four touchdowns to none with the top units on the field. Carter said it was a pretty lopsided outcome, especially with West boasting a linebacker and defensive end coveted by the University of Arkansas. Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator John Chavis attended the scrimmage.

“They’ve got a pretty good defense,” said Carter. “They were pretty tough the first couple of series.”

Christian said the Indians held a Maroon-Gray game.

“The coaches drafted the kids,” said Christian. “We made two teams and did it that way.”

Spring standouts

Carter said the Hilltoppers ran the ball “as good as we ever have.” Leading the way were big Drew Morrison (5-10, 240) and Chris Thomas, who Carter said is going to be special.

“He’s 5-8, 205 pounds, and he ran a 4.6 at the Charlotte combine,” said Carter. “He has good eyes. He’s one of the best we’ve had. He just wore out Knox West.”

Malik Bowman also looked good, said Carter.

Christian said he was pleased with the play of Lucas Patton on the offensive line and linebackers Nate Whitley and Braxton Kulbacki.

“We’ve always had a kid or two turn it on during the spring,” said Christian. “I thought Patton grew up and had a very good spring for us. And some of the younger kids on defense responded well. Whitley and Kulbacki had very good springs.”

Line strength

Carter said his offensive line looked very strong. And it will get better when Blake Austin (6-4, 290) returns.

Austin, a left tackle, is being pursued by Coastal Carolina, Samford, Eastern Kentucky, West Carolina, Richmond and several others. He didn’t play in the spring, but Kendrick Fain, Ryan Miles, Stephen Grant and Graham Janeway made things work.

They protected new quarterback AJ Stewart, who Carter said managed the team well.

First spring as head coach

Christian said he took the new look in stride.

“I’ve always had a lot of confidence in myself as a position coach,” said Christian. “Now I just consider myself coaching one big position and it happens to be the whole team.”

Attendance report

Both teams had their usual assortment of athletes participating in other sports.

“We had some guys in track and a couple in baseball,” said Christian. “Even though baseball got finished early, I told them they needed to take some time off.”

Said Carter, “We missed some of the baseball players, like Matthew Levi. Caleb Marmo didn’t play football last year, but he’s coming back out.”

Going forward

Science Hill is working four days a week with defense on Monday, running Tuesday, offense on Wednesday, and a combination of things Thursday.

D-B hits the field each morning, bright and early at 7 a.m. for a two-hour block of work.

“We’re not changing a whole lot of things,” said Christian. “We’re tweaking things here and there. It’s mostly just terminology, not any major idea changes. The kids have done everything we’ve asked them to do.”

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