By Tim Leible firstname.lastname@example.org
The Thomas Sumter Academy Generals will see regular season action on Friday, as they make the trip to Kingstree to take on Williamsburg Academy. While the weather has made things complicated as in preparation for their first game, Generals head coach Randy Stogner has liked what he’s seen in practice this week.
“Everyone is excited about getting ready to play after being here all summer. It’s a long layoff since last year’s first-round playoff game,” said Stogner. “The weather has been the weather and it’s forced us to practice in a different way to make sure we get in what we have to before my athletic trainer hollers that it’s (the Wet Bulb Monitor) in the red, orange, black or some color .
“I think we’re in good shape. Everyone seems to be pretty healthy and excited about it.”
Stogner has liked what he’s seen out of Ethan Lisenby in his first season as the team’s quarterback, as well as a number of the running backs in its stable. More than anything else, the biggest surprise has been in his head count, as Thomas Sumter saw its roster grow to 27 players with a few late additions.
“I think the biggest impact that we’re pleased with is that we’re up to 27 players now,” Stogner said. “That was a big surprise. We’ve got some kids coming out once school started, some there at the end, so we’re able to practice 11-on-11. That’s different than anything we were able to do last year.”
One of the biggest benefits to having more players is being able to work on hitting a little bit more. One of the areas Stogner really wanted to see improvement in this season was tackling, so those increased numbers could prove to be extremely helpful in that area.
“Since we’ve got some more numbers, we’re hitting a little more,” he said. “They seem to be receiving that kind of well.”
Stogner knows TSA has a tough matchup, but he thinks his team is further along than it was last season. As long as his players show the same effort as they did all of last season, Stogner thinks it will be a good first step.
“One thing is that the kids last year never gave up, and I want to at least continue with that attitude,” said Stogner. “I wanna finish the play on defense and tackle instead of getting close and letting them get away, but the other team has a lot to do with that.”
The biggest key for TSA will be stopping the run as Williamsburg has some speed in the backfield.
“Williamsburg has a real good quarterback. Probably the best thing going for him is his legs; he can run,” Stogner said. “And until I see him on the field I can’t tell you if we’re going to be able to catch him. He’s pretty slick. We’re definitely going to have to take more than one guy to the point of attack and try to corral that rascal. They have a big tailback. He seems to run pretty good too.”
With so many new faces, Stogner sees Friday as the first true chance to gauge his team.
“I can tell ya Saturday,” said Stogner on his confidence level in the team. “I’ve got some guys that haven’t been on the field before, I’ve got some guys that played B team ball last year, and I’ve got some seniors that came out because they’re ready to play, and they haven’t played since they were eighth-graders.”
While he has a lot of unknowns hitting the field, Stogner likes where his kids are heading into the first game.
“I think we’re playing a lot better right now than I expected us to, to be honest,” said Stogner. “I’m pleasantly surprised with where we are right now.”
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