With only 17 senior high players suited up for practice on Tuesday, Quitman is making the best out of a difficult situation. In order to hold a full-scale practice, the Bulldogs brought up some freshmen to give the senior high players a better look.
Quitman held its first practice in full pads on Monday and continued with full gear on Tuesday.
“Today's practice was upbeat,” said Bulldog Coach Fritz Heidenreich. “We pulled some ninth-graders up to practice with us so we would have some more guys. That really helped out a lot. There was a lot of pep out there today.”
The Bulldogs expect to have 20 senior high players by the start of the season, however, getting them all to practice at the same time has been an issue ¬ one that plagues many Class 2A football schools around the state.
Heidenreich estimates seven or eight starters will need to contribute on both sides of the ball, which could slow down the Bulldogs' up-tempo offense.
“It could be a problem. We are working on it right now like we are going to do it all game. But it may be a situation where we have to do it by quarter. We may go fast one quarter and slow it down the next quarter. We are going to have to control the pace on offense to kinda give our guys a break. Right now we've got seven or eight guys going both ways so it's tough on them. We need to give our guys a break because we don't have any subs.”
Quitman worked on a relatively new dynamic to the offense Tuesday, utilizing the read option attack with impressive precision as sophomore running back Chris Milam (5-10, 190) ran over defenders while a displaying immense power and senior H-back Hadley Martin (6-2, 185), who is without question the team leader, slipped out into the open field on outside pitches from backup quarterback Treavor Williams (6-1, 165), a sophomore who usually works at wide receiver.
“We are doing a little read option from the shotgun to give us another little wrinkle,” said Heidenreich. “We are doing some veer stuff to kinda play around with the defensive end. We are not a big option team but we want to have it in our arsenal. It goes along with our inside zone play and it's been good to us so far.”
Milam and Martin stood out on offense and defense.
“Chris Milam is a big kid and he is going to be a bull-runner for us. And Hadley Martin has speed. He is banged up in the shoulder and can't throw. He used to be our backup quarterback, but we put him at running back and he is doing a good job for us.”
Williams took snaps in place of junior quarterback Walker Johnson, who was excused from the past two practices due to a prior engagement. Johnson (6-2, 200) passed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
Page 2 of 2 - Several of the freshmen made big plays in the passing game at Tuesday's practice, particularly receiver Dylan Locke, who had eight receptions in a 25-play passing drill. Locke burned the left side of secondary for a probable touchdown on one play and used his quickness to spin out of trouble on several occasions.
The Bulldogs hope to keep the freshmen down to play at the junior high level, however, any injuries could change that strategy. Heidenreich is excited about the Junior Bulldogs.
“Dylan Locke is a kid that we would move up if we had to move somebody up. Our ninth-grade quarterback Trey McGhee wasn't here today but they have a chance to be a good combination in junior high. Locke has been really impressive to us. He has practiced with the high school team several times already.
“We don't want to move them up but if we have some injuries and we have to do it we will. They have a real good chance to do good in junior high so we would like to leave them down.”
Receivers and the left side of the offensive line have been strengths of the offense in fall camp. “At receiver Royce Katzer has been catching the ball pretty good and the left side of our offensive line has really done a good job. We've got to get our right side shored up. We don't have any depth on the line,” added Heidenreich. “We've got a few guys that have quit and stuff and that has put us in a bind on the line. We have a couple of subs, but that is a big weakness.”
The left side of the Bulldogs' line features junior center Ty Davis (6-2, 190), guard Eugene Peguese (5-11, 230), who was selected all-conference last season, and senior tackle Jacob Carr (5-10, 240).
Defensively, Heidenreich said the linebackers are strong with Martin playing left outside backer, Milam in the middle and Jacoby Brown (5-8, 160) on the right side. Martin led the Bulldogs with 101 tackles while earning all-conference honors last season.
Quitman will basically be playing iron-man football this season.
“We don't have any depth but we have good guys,” concluded Heidenreich.
The Bulldogs travel to Marshall for a scrimmage with the Bobcats on Thursday, Aug. 29 and host the Augusta Red Devils in the season opener on Friday, Sept. 6.