Monday, August 19, 2013

Bobcats excited about 2013

Football 2013
Story by Kelly Caldwell
Photos by Phillip Heard


Many milestones could be reached for the Woodland Bobcat's head coach Larry Strain this season. He enters his 15th season at the helm and sits on a record of 94-73. It is likely he will record his 100th career win as a head coach this season, and he is the first to admit he likes what  he is seeing out of this year's squad.
"We are excited about our opportunities this season," Strain said. "For the last five years we have been playing with a 'missing class' because our junior and senior classes have been so small.
"For the last two years we have had six seniors playing football, where this year we return 13 seniors (most of which have either started or gotten plenty of playing time for the last three years.)"
Last year's campaign saw the Bobcats post a 10-3 record with a third round appearance in the Class 2A AHSAA football playoffs.
"I wouldn't say we exceeded our expectations last year, but we did have a good year," Strain said. "Here at Woodland, it is not enough for us to just make the playoffs. Not to sound boastful, but we have made the playoffs 11 of the last 14 seasons. So our fans and players have come to expect postseason play."
Ranked in the top 10 in Alabama Sportswriters Association Class 2A preseason poll, the Bobcats hope to add to their playoff appearance streak as well as advance past the first round.
Considering the Bobcats lost only three starters on both sides of the ball from last year's group, Woodland returns a strong nucleus of players including quarterback John Wes Adcock. He returns for his senior campaign after posting passing 1,377 yards.
"That's where everything starts for us especially on offense," Strain said. "He is a heck of a quarterback. He has a strong arm and sometimes that is his undoing. He is capable of throwing deep down field and really challenges our receiver corps."
Up to the task of catching those long Adcock bombs include Kip Sims, Tyler Rollins, Kendall Hudson and John David Jacobs.
Hudson returns for his junior year after sitting out with an injury for the entire 2012 season.
"Before the first game he tore cartilage and missed the whole season," Strain said. "He was a pure athlete for us as a freshman and we expect big things from him this year."
"With the exception of Mikey Howard, we didn't lose any of our skill guys," Strain said. "All our receivers are back and you will see different guys in there depending on what set we are in.
"Kip is probably my speed guy where Rollins is probably the most well rounded and consistent."
Howard was the go to guy for hand offs last year with more than 1,400 rushing yard and 19 touchdowns.
" We are going to miss Mikey, of course, but I think we have as much depth at running back this year as we did on the 2006 team," Strain said.
Lakeland Phillips, Justus Herring, Colby Spears  and Hudson will all be taking turns running the ball.
The biggest question for the Bobcat offense is the line to replace the two lineman lost in Christian Burroughs and Al Davis.
"That is certainly the biggest question, but we have a host of people that will play on the line," Strain said.
Austin Meadows, Jake Gay, Alonzo Cummings, Devonta Maffett, Levi Noles and Aaron Buttrill will all see time on the line.
Maffett also returns after sitting out for a year.
"While we lost players to graduation, we got back two starters from two years ago for this season," Strain said. "Maffett and Hudson will both be big impact players for us on both sides of the ball."
On defense Hudson will play free safety while Maffett will be one of the defensive ends or linebackers.
"We end up having to play on both sides of the ball but we will rotate players  in and out a lot."
Trae Messer, who Strain said probably had the best spring of anyone, will see action at defensive tackle or outside linebacker. Then 2012 All County selections Meadows, Cummings and Rollins also return to defense. Buttrill and Kison Strain will also be among the host of defensive lineman being used.
Herring will be in the outside linebacker position or defensive end depending on the scheme the Bobcats are in at the time.
"Justus is probably my best defensive player," Strain said. "He is an impact player for sure."
Axon Gay and Rollins will fill the inside linebacker positions.
"Tyler Rollins returns for his third year in that position," Strain said. "Last year, he recorded 82 solo tackles."
In the secondary, the Bobcats will rotate between Hunter Baldwin, Sims, Adcock and Hudson.
Fans can get a preview of the Bobcats on Aug. 23 when they travel to White Plains for their fall jamboree. Woodland opens the season on the road against Bowdon the following week. The Bobcats first home game is Sept. 13 against Fultondale.
"It's tough opening the season with three games on the road, but it will pay off having more home games later in the season," Strain said.


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