The Sumter Item sports writer Danny Kelly conducted a question-and-answer interview with each of the 12 high school football coaches in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties, asking each the same five questions about their recently concluded spring practices. Today we have Lee Central High School head coach Justin Danner.
Q: What was your No. 1 goal coming into spring football practice and did you achieve it?
A: I think our No. 1 goal this year was just to solidify depth because we did lose some seniors a year ago, but we did bring a lot of people back. Our biggest question mark is, how are we going to shore up both sides of the football? And I think that we were able to do that by finding depth from the other side. So we’ll have a lot of kids that are going to help us both ways heading into the fall. So, they may not be a starter offensively, but they will still be able to provide us some depth defensively, and vice versa. That was our biggest goal, just making sure that we could get a lot of our guys that could get coached up on both sides of the football.
Q: Were there any individuals who stood out to you?
A: Our quarterback, him really stepping in, which is Jaquaze Myers. I think he was very impressive, having control of the offense. He’s been with us for four years, and he’s played multiple positions for us. He’s played wide receiver, he’s played running back, he’s a 3-year all-conference punter. He really solidified himself as our top signal-caller and that helps.
Q: Was there anything that left you concerned after spring practice?
A: I thought we did a good job of shoring up depth because depth is still a concern because if you get some guys bumped up, especially in 2A football, you get more than one guy down now. You can lose a linebacker whose also a backup tight end for you. So staying healthy without carrying 50-60 on your roster is always the biggest concern. So staying healthy with depth would be it.
Q: Where do you need to make the most progress over the summer entering fall?
A: I think the biggest thing that we can do to better ourselves, because we’ve got some guys that have returned in the secondary, and that’s been a big plus for us. Underneath as far as our linebacker play, getting our guys to get a lot of reps this summer will be big for us. Strengthening up our linebacker core because we lost some really good football players a year ago playing linebacker for us. Getting those guys to recognize formations, knowing where to be in coverage underneath, will be huge for us. Like I said, we brought back some secondary guys but just really getting some experience there as well as leadership on the defensive side of the football.
Q: What was one area or position you feel like you solidified in spring?
A: I think our defensive line is pretty solid. We’ll be returning one of our top defensive linemen, as well as one of the top defensive lineman in our conference, in Dymerius Atkinson We’ve had some other guys really step up that play offense for us as well as defense in Emmanuel Cain, as well as Chad Temoney and also Jontale Green. Those guys have really stepped up and solidified a strong front for us defensively. We definitely still want to make defense our calling card, so those guys really standing up this spring, has really been a plus for us.
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