School: Thomas Walker
Coach: Brian Lee
2006 record: 2-8, 1-4
Offensive starters back: 7
Defensive starters back: 7
EWING — Ever since Brian Lee returned to the helm of Thomas Walker’s football program four years ago, he’s found the going to be a little bit slow.
But after enduring a 6-24 run over the last three years, Lee finally is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
With 31 players on a roster anchored by four seniors that have started ever since they put on a Pioneer jersey, Lee is excited about what’s to come.
“The road to the Cumberland District championship used to run through Thomas Walker when I was coaching here in the early ’90s,” the coach said. “It’s kind of disappeared a little bit, but we’re trying to get that back.”
Lee hopes to get there with an option attack he’s been itching to use since he came back to his old stomping grounds four years ago.
“We’ve wanted to do it since I’ve been here, but I didn’t think we had the capability up front,” Lee said. “We didn’t have enough football knowledge.”
But with a pair of quarterbacks who can think fast on their feet to go along with a deep backfield and a sturdy offensive line, Lee is ready to launch the new offense.
He’s hoping the option attack is the remedy for an offense that has been ailing in recent years.
“Defense hasn’t been the problem since I’ve been back,” Lee said. “The offense hasn’t been able to move the football.
“We had Rye Cove turn it over to us four times inside the 20 last year and we couldn’t score.”
Travis Hall and Zach Hensley, a pair of juniors, will team up to handle the quarterback position.
Lee is confident that the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hall and the 5-9, 165-pound Hensley are quick enough, durable enough and smart enough to make the necessary decisions under pressure to keep the chains moving.
Hensley will most likely be the starter under center, but don’t expect Hall to be holding a clipboard on the sidelines — he’ll be in the backfield somewhere when he’s not barking out signals.
As for the rest of the backfield, Lee is hoping to use two different sets of three backs, cycling them in and out depending on the situation.
“I’ve got a set with a lot of size, and I’ve got a speed set,” he said. “Barring injuries, that’s what we’re looking at doing.”
Jesse Denson (6-2, 225) will earn the start at fullback while Hall and Jordan Hatfield (5-9, 205) will man the halfback slots.
The speed set consists of Scottie Hunley (5-9, 165) at fullback along with Jamie Twigg (5-8, 140) and Stephen Escobar (5-9, 140) at the halfback slots.
Lee is hoping for some production from his receivers with Robbie Giles (6-4, 185), Kevin Pauley (6-foot, 170) and Robbie Hawkins (6-3, 175) sharing time at split end.
Up front, Wesley Hall (5-10, 205) will be the center, Mikey Pauley (5-10, 255) and D.J. Witt (5-10, 205) will play guard while Logan Brooks (6-0, 235) and Will Thomas (6-3, 255) man the tackle spots.
The starting slots on defense are up in the air, but Lee plans on adding another safety to the defensive backfield to keep opposing offenses honest.
While he’s not willing to make any predictions about how it will all turn out, Lee is optimistic when it comes to the 2007 season.
“We’ve got athletes and that’s a first for us here,” he said. “Overall, we’re going to be better then we were last year.
“Now, how many wins and losses that equals, I don’t know.”