Tribe finds identity as spring session endsPublished 5:00am Saturday, May 18, 2013
The difference a year makes. Wetumpka High took the field Thursday night capping the 10-day spring practice period with a solid direction heading into the off-season.
“Last year was a learning experience for all of us,” said Tim Perry, capping his second spring as coach of the Indians. “We went through spring and the off-season thinking we were able to do one thing and then had to change midway through the season. We’ve been around our players for a year now and understand their strengths more. We have a direction we want to go with this offense to better utilize those strengths.”
The strength Perry’s talking about is a monster-truck sized offensive front (averaging over 6-feet and nearly 300 pounds) and a stable of steady-handed running backs, mixed with a muster of run-option quarterbacks and an assemblage of game-tested wide receivers.
“That’s one of the things (the coaches) talked about last night: How do we continue to tweak this offense,” said Perry. “We can spend the summer getting reps on what our strengths are and have a clear picture of what we want to do going into the summer.”
Perry and his coaches used Thursday’s Black and Gold Game as a way to further evaluate the Indians.
“We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” said Perry. “Maybe to the casual observer, it didn’t look like we did a lot. But, we didn’t go into this trying to game plan against our own team. We wanted to look at certain players in certain situations. Our goal was not just to have one group win over the other, we wanted to have a clear picture of where we stand going into the off-season.”
While the night was mostly positive, there was a negative moment when Dylan Mann suffered a leg injury that will sideline him for most of the summer.
“I’m heartbroken about Dylan’s injury,” said Perry. “He was one of the biggest surprises of the spring. His ability to play on the defensive front had gotten him into the two-deep rotation at defensive line.”
Mann was engaged with an offensive Indian when the pair’s weight shifted leading to a collapse.
“He’s a good kid and very self disciplined,” said Perry. “He was projected as the starting placekicker and punter this fall. But he’s a fighter and a very self-motivated young man.”
One of the coaching staff’s main goals was to determine two-deep on the depth chart.
“We really wanted to look at some of the younger guys,” said Perry. “We knew what the veterans could do. We wanted to look at some of the younger players and see how they performed and we were pleased.”
Sammy Britton stepped in at quarterback.
“We’re really proud of the work and improvements that he’s made,” said Perry. “He worked extremely hard in the weight room in the off-season and really stepped out there and took charge of the spring. He was confident and he handled the ball well.”
He also praised the work of understudies Christian Montague (rising sophomore), Quinten Taylor (rising senior) and Keldon Washington (rising sophomore) also had their moments in the limelight Thursday night. Taylor rushed for a touchdown and Washington threw for a touchdown.
“All four of our quarterbacks did a great job,” said Perry. “Christian became a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable running the offense. Quinten and Keldon both ran the offense well.”
Turnovers, on the whole, were down from last year. According to Perry, a year ago, seven passes were completed to defensive backs, while errant snaps stalled drives.
“Thursday, we had no errant snaps and only one interception,” said Perry. “We only threw into coverage one time.”
Defensively, Malik Hayes moved from safety to corner and Justin Connor also turned a few heads.
“Austin Garrett kind of flew under the radar last year,” said Perry. “He’s improved a lot of in the off-season, now the question is do we put him at running back or do we put him at safety? He’s improved greatly at both positions.”