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Head Coach Ricky Smither returns for his third year on the sidelines for the Northeast Tiger football team.
Smither is joined by second-year co-offensive coordinator coach John Darnell who will coach the quarterbacks and receivers, while the defense will be orchestrated by newcomer coach Jeff Carter who will focus on the secondary. Veteran coach Brad Boyette (co-offensive coordinator) will make the switch from defense to offense instructing the offensive line. Assistant Coach Travis Macon will hold down the defensive line with another newcomer Freddie Weinke handling the linebackers.
In 2009, the Tigers finished 2-7 overall picking up their first win against arch rival Itawamba under Smither on September 10, 28-21. Northeast picked up its second victory of the season two weeks later on September 24, defeating Holmes 25-10. Three of the Tigers’ seven losses came in overtime, with the first loss coming in the season opener on August 27 verses Hinds 16-7. On October 3, Northeast dropped another overtime decision at East Central in a shoot out the ended with the Warriors coming out on top 35-28. The most disappointing OT loss was on homecoming night against Coahoma on October 15. On a rainy, muddy field, Northeast battled through four extra periods before Coahoma finally scored the game winner defeating Northeast 20-14.
However, the Tigers are ready to claw their way back to the top and hope to put opponents away earlier in the game during the 2010 season.
“Although our record may not have reflected, we were successful last year. I think we accomplished a lot of good things and we are looking forward to building off those positives this year,” Smither said.
Smither’s optimism and confidence for the 2010 season will be backed up by his 15 sophomores who will return to the gridiron giving the commander-in-chief plenty of upperclassman leadership on and off the field.
Some of those sophomores on the offense include second year quarterback Clint Wilson (Olive Branch), who started all nine games for the Tigers in 2009, and running back Jaquise Cook (Ripley), who was the back-up to 1,000-yard rusher Jeremy Cannon (New Albany). Joining Cook will be sophomore Michael Poole (Ripley) and the lone frosh Jamarcus Goodloe (Colbert County, Ala.). Matt Cook (Kossuth), a transfer sophomore RB should see plenty of action for the Tigers as well.
“I am really excited about our potential this year and I can’t wait to get on the field and do my part to push the team in the direction we want to go,” explained Wilson. “We have been working hard and I think we got a good chance to do some great things in 2010.”
However, a question mark for Wilson and the Tigers’ spread offense lies in the offensive line.
“We lost all of our starters on the offensive line from last year,” said Smither. “It is going to be hard to replace guys like Louis Gillom (Oxford), DeMarkus Underwood (Tuscumbia, Ala.), Josh Thompson (Leighton, Ala.) and Jonathan Wilson (Batesville).” That was a special crew, but we got some guys that are going to fill in the gaps and I think we will be fine.”
Those players will include Antonio Foster (Valdosta, Ga.), a transfer from Georgia Tech, Kendall Kelly (Gainesville, Fla.) and Dustin Winsted (Colbert Heights, Ala.), along with some other local talent that should silence the doubts for the offensive line.
At the wide receiver spot, fans should keep their eyes out for Josh Jarboe (Atlanta, Ga.), a 6-4, 205-pound transfer from Troy, Johnathan Johnson (West Helena, Ark.), and Diante Curlee, a local favorite from Corinth. Also, Brynden Trawick (Atlanta, Ga.), a 6-3, 215-pound transfer from Michigan State, will add some depth to the receiver spot for Smither. Trawick is expected to be the starting free safety, but his athleticism will allow him to go both ways when called upon.
“Trawick had a very productive spring and he’s a fast, athletic and big guy, so we expect him to give us some big plays out on the football field,” Smither said. “He probably will play both ways for us by playing a little WR on offense and at the safety spot on defense.”
Defensively, look for Northeast’s 4-3 set to be controlled by the front line. Sophomores Ky’Vari Bolden (Hoover, Ala.), McAuther Leatherwood (Ripley) and Anthony Payne (Leroy, Ala.) will lead the way in the trenches. Upperclassman Trey Pegues (Abbeville), freshman Ryan Richardson (Ripley) along with Anthony Brown (Cairo, Ga.) will handle the linebacker spots. The lone returning sophomore defensive back Steve Smith (Jackson), who played well for the Tigers in 2009, will lead the patrol in the secondary while getting help from freshman Jeremy Spikner (DeSoto Central), University of Alabama transfer Deion Belue, Jonathan Bates (Tuscumbia, Ala.), and strong safety Tarondal Phillips (Holly Springs).
Finally, look for a big improvement on special teams with the addition of kicker Taylor Earhart (Olive Branch).
“We had some let downs on special teams last season, but we are really confident in Taylor and it will give us more flexability in making decisions during a game,” said Smither.
Look for the Tigers to be strong and improved in all aspects of the game in 2010. With the defensive front leading the way and a proven quarterback at the helm for Northeast, this year’s team should give fans plenty to cheer about.
Northeast will kickoff the 2010 campaign in Decatur at East Central Community College on September 2. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. Listen to all the action beginning at 6:30 p.m. by logging onto http://www.teamline.cc/teampage?teamcode=1452, then click on football. Approximately at 8 p.m. the game will be joined live in progress on the 96.3 FM “The Ticket” immediately following The Dan Mullen Show.
For more information on how to tune into Northeast football in 2010, you can contact Joseph Miller at 662-720-7300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.