As they prepare for their season opener Aug. 27 at Northeast Jones, the Northeast Lauderdale Trojans are focused on one thing: daily improvement.
“Up to this point, we’re getting better and just trying to improve day by day,” head football coach Maurice Gowdy said. “We want to make sure what we’re doing scheming-wise is in accordance to what we have talent-wise.”
If the Trojans are going to be successful this fall, the offensive and defensive lines will have to live up to their potential. Gowdy said he believes the team will be strong in the trenches, and with a fairly young roster, the experience there is all the more important.
“We’re really going to have to rely on our offensive and defensive lines,” Gowdy said. “We’re solid up front, and we have a lot of returning starters up front, so that’s going to be our strength.”
Several players will play both ways in the trenches as the Trojans will look to build depth on each line.
“As of now we have four guys who will probably wind up having to start on both sides of the ball, which is good considering the circumstances,” Gowdy said. “Everyone is trying to put the kids in the best position to make plays and progress to where the best 11 are on the field at all times.”
Right tackle Roscoe Tucker returns alongside returning guards Mitchell Butler and Jordan Wright and center Braden Smith, and Gowdy said the Trojans are also expecting a productive season from left tackle Eddie Bennett. Joseph Price will also see significant playing time on the offensive line, especially when Butler plays defense, and Kaleb Shelby is another name to watch at guard.
“I think Eddie is at 6-foot-5, Roscoe is at 6-foot-3 or 4 and Butler is right a 6-foot-2,” Gowdy said. “We have some gritty guards with Price and Jordan Wright, and with Braden Smith, those are all returning starters. Last year was their first year to start, but with them coming back this year, we’ll rely on them heavily.”
Senior Kaiden Carlisle will play on the defensive line alongside Butler and junior Tylon Brewster. As far as skill players go, Northeast Lauderdale is expecting big things from running back/cornerback JaMichael Jackson and running back Quonderius Simpson, both juniors. Senior Lakedrick Rowe is the brother of standout receiver Lasanto Rowe, who graduated this past spring, and will be a “primetime player” at receiver and defensive back, Gowdy said. Travis Green returns as Northeast Lauderdale’s starting quarterback.
“We also have some young guys coming up who are really shifty and explosive once they get the ball in space,” Gowdy said. “We have a lot of returners but also some voids that will have to be filled, so we’re going to need some younger kids to step up for us. There aren’t a lot of seniors in this class, which is another reason we’re relying on the offensive and defensive lines. We’ll have to win at the line of scrimmage.”
Aug. 27 — at Northeast Jones
Sept. 3 — Meridian
Sept. 10 — at SE Lauderdale
Sept. 17 — at Forest
Sept. 24 — Heidelberg
Oct. 1 — Louisville
Oct. 8 — at Leake Central
Oct. 15 — Choctaw Central
Oct. 22 — at Kosciusko
Oct. 29 — at West Lauderdale