Frenship football gets ready for 2008 season
Corey Smith warms up with some offensive drills Saturday at Tiger Stadium for Frenship’s scrimmage against Snyder.
Frenship football coaches knew they would be in for some work at the start of this year.
The Tigers are faced with having to replace 11 graduated seniors on defense and key position players on offense including quarterback Matt Hill and running back Michael Connor, who is now at Colorado State.
“We are very pleased with the two-a-days and feel our workouts have been hard,” said Brad Davis, Frenship head coach. “We feel our kids have worked their tails off this summer at Tiger Camp, and they showed up to two-a-days in great shape.”
Frenship plays its second scrimmage of the season against Snyder at 7 p.m. today at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers will have their season opener against Lubbock High School at 7:30 p.m. August 28 at Lowrey Field.
Davis said he feels his team will gain experience throughout the first half of the season and be prepared for district.
The Tiger offense does have several advantages.
The play-calling will be more balanced this season.
Last season at this time, Frenship had not declared a starting quarterback.
This year, Tyler Lloyd is the pronounced front-runner.
Lloyd got a little taste of the position last season when Texas Tech’s Seth Doege tore his ACL in two-a-days, but Matt Hill moved from the receiver position to battle for the starting quarterback spot.
“We are expecting a big year out of Tyler (Lloyd),” said Davis. “He can throw the ball very well and he has great passing technique. He gets rid of the ball quickly and he is accurate. But he can also run the ball. We feel he is going to be special.”
Lloyd has the confidence of his coaches and welcomes the role of starting quarterback.
“I got a taste of it last year,” said Lloyd. “It feels a little different actually starting the position this year. I just hope I go out there and do the right thing.”
Lloyd will have the comfort of an experienced offensive line to protect him.
The offensive line is returning four of five starters, including 6-foot 7-inch, 300 pound Mason Walters.
Walters is verbally committed to the University of Texas.
Lee Conoly, Seth Kiker and Jordan Nichols are also returning on the offensive line with newcomer Ryan Dykes.
“When you have a D1 offensive lineman you always feel comfortable,” said Lloyd.
Walters said the offense is adjusting to Lloyd. “I can tell you right now, he is smart, and he is adjusting to the offense well,” said Walters. “We have some amazing receivers so Tyler (Lloyd) should not have a problem finding someone to throw to.”
Seniors Lance Ratliff and Jedidiah Mannon return as receivers. Jordan Richburg, Ben Christian and Asheton Hastings also look to make their presence felt at wide receiver.
Frenship will also have to fill the running back position.
Landon Lamb and Brandon Jones will split time at the fullback position and Ricko Garcia, Alec Birchfield and Bryan Seicks are competing for the starting tailback position.
Davis said he is not opposed to having a running back by committee.
“We are working three kids at tailback and they are all looking good. We are not opposed to playing all three of them. We can not tell if one of them is the front runner right now because we have not seen them against anyone but our practice squad. You really don’t know what the kid can do until he competes against another team.”
Last season, the Tigers were able to rely on standout Connor to carry the running game.
Ricko Garcia and Alec Birchfield each received varsity experience by giving Connor relief during the games.
Garcia and Birchfield showed signs of being able to obtain the starting position late last season.
Davis said he is not concerned with having three tailbacks because it creates a healthy competition among the players.
The Tiger defense is another story.
Of the 11 starting seniors that graduated from last year’s team, eight had senior backups.
“It is the first time in my career that we have had to replace everyone on defense, and some people might call that bad coaching, but we put our best players on the field last year,” said Don Black, Frenship defensive coordinator. “It is one of the most challenging jobs as a defensive coordinator to replace that many players.”
At this point, the Tigers have yet to name the starting defensive players.
“Experience is invaluable because you learn by doing,” said Black.
Frenship plans to use its pre-district games to fine tune the defense and gain the experience needed for district play.
“The kids have always bought into winning,” said Black. “They are working great and they are a fun bunch to coach. We are not going to be perfect at the start of the year, but by the end of the year, we are going to be a pretty good football team.”
Frenship is beginning the season without any injuries on the varsity team.
“We have a junior varsity player who hurt his leg and is getting it checked out,” said Davis. “We planned on him helping our varsity out this season. Our varsity is healthy though.”
5 Game Keys
1: Keeping the tradition
Frenship head coach Brad Davis said it is important for the Tigers to be aware of the winning tradition. The Tigers have reached the playoffs every season in the past decade. “The tradition of winning district and going deep in the playoffs has been built,” said Davis.
2: Senior leadership
What Frenship lacks in experience, they have in senior leadership. The Tigers bring 36 seniors to the team. They look to returners like Mason Walters, Jedidiah Mannon and Lance Ratliff to lead the inexperienced players on offense. Tyler Lloyd will also need to take charge at quarterback.
3: Work ethic
The Tiger’s work ethic is exceptionally good this year. Over the summer, Frenship hosted Tiger Camp to keep the athletes conditioned. The camp consisted of five weeks of strength and condition workouts. Between 85-90 percent of the football team was present at the camp. “When you walk into the weight room, you get a sense that we might not have the most talent, but we have 11 guys who are going to work hard,” said Mason Walters.
4: Brand new defense
Frenship will have 11 new faces on the defensive end of the ball after losing all of last seasons starters to graduation. Lance Ratliff and Jedidiah Mannon are returning letterman who look to make an early impact in the secondary. “It is a good thing that we have a few pre-district games so we can get everyone in there and get a little bit of varsity experience,” said Walters.
5: Offensive balance
Last season, the Tigers were forced to rely on Michael Connor and the running game after Seth Doege’s season-ending ACL injury. This season, Frenship looks to have a balanced play selection. The passing game will be led by Tyler Lloyd and his band of receivers, and the running game is steered by Ricko Garcia, Alec Birchfield and Bryan Seicks. A starting front four with four returners and one D1 athlete will help keep the backfield on its feet.
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