William Blount seeks to replace 16 seniors
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
Spring practice was a numbers game for David Gregory and his William Blount football team.
First and foremost: 16.
That’s the number of seniors that graduated the Govs’ football program after the 2011 campaign.
Those gone include Hunter Saunders, the quarterback of last year’s newly installed pistol offense.
Also gone are Saunders’ backfield mates Greg Cook and Cole Henry. Former receiver Brooks Cunningham is also on the list. Defensive ends, defensive tackles and linebackers will also need replacing inside the box on the other side of the football.
The second number to play with: 7. That’s how many seniors make up this year’s class of fourth-year Govs — not quite half of last year’s total of 16.
Another: 6. That’s how many freshmen — who will be sophomores by the time August rolls around — started in William Blount’s spring game.
“Being young in this league can get brutal,” Gregory told The Daily Times. “To tell you how young we are, we have, on roster, seven seniors.”
Last year’s seniority was good enough for a 4-4 start before back-to-back league losses on the road to eventual state champion Maryville (41-21) and Farragut (10-7) left for a 4-6 record (3-4 Dist. 4-AAA). WB’s district wins came against Knoxville Catholic (21-17), Heritage (49-3) and Lenoir City (34-27).
“We lost a good group,” Gregory said. “They’re going to be hard to replace, but someone is going to have to step up and do it.”
While spring practice leading up to the 2011 season was spent installing Gregory’s pistol scheme, this spring was spent adapting the new names and faces to the 2012 version of the pistol.
“Spring was a little better (this year),” Gregory said. “We had to tweak (the pistol) a lot because of the personnel, not having the same kind of personnel we had last year.
“Losing (Hunter) Saunders at quarterback, we don’t have that kind of quarterback (this year). So we’ve had to tweak it.
“We don’t have the offense, the speed, that we had last year. And then defensively we lost some good ones.”
Finding and establishing new faces on the defensive front won’t be an easy task, Gregory said.
“We’ve probably had a harder time finding replacements for the defensive side than we’ve had for the offensive side.
“We lost two good defensive ends, a couple defensive tackles and some linebackers. We’ve had a hard time finding replacements for them.
“We’ll have a hard time replacing those kids. We’re young.”
The upside to a young 2012 campaign? A bright future for the William Blount football program.
“(In the) spring game we started six freshmen,” Gregory said. “They’re pretty good football players and they did a pretty good job for us.
“The future is bright there.”