By Brady Cox | T.L. Hanna Contributor
The T.L. Hanna Yellow Jackets enjoyed a historic 2018 campaign. The Yellow Jackets went undefeated in the regular season, defeated South Carolina powerhouses such as Spartanburg, Northwestern, Dorman, and Byrnes in the playoffs, and then won their first Upper State Championship since 1974.
Needless to say, the Yellow Jackets have some big shoes to fill in 2019, and they will have to replace the likes of star players such as defensive end Zacch Pickens, who is now at South Carolina, quarterback Alex Meredith, who is now at Army, and wing backs Jay Lagroon, Jaydon McKinney, and Isaiah Norris.
This past summer was an eventful one for the Yellow Jackets. Logan Milford, who was backup quarterback to Meredith last season and probable starter for the 2019 season, transferred to Belton-Honea Path, and longtime head coach Jeff Herron announced his retirement after 37 years of coaching.
Jason Tone, an assistant under Herron for several years, was named the new head coach, and he’s now faced with the impossible task of replacing a legend.
The biggest question for the Yellow Jackets is how will they be able to replace all of those losses from just a season ago?
“You can’t replace those guys and what they did, but we have some guys who have really worked hard and stepped up, like Ryan Wynn, Jaylin Thomas, J.J. Hudson, Ja’Nike Truesdale, and Erick Lopez,” Tone said. “Our philosophy is that if everybody gets 1% better everyday, we will be 150% better by the end of the season.”
Tone also discussed how there has been some healthy competition for the starting quarterback position. “We have two guys who are competing for time at quarterback, sophomore Carson Bachelor, and junior Noah Hamby.” Tone said neither player has much varsity experience, but he likes what he has seen from the two.
With these questions answered, the Yellow Jackets are preparing for their first game of the season this Friday against the Emerald Vikings. The Vikings are coming off of a 3-8 season, but Tone said that this is a much different team from last year.
“They have changed their offense, going from a spread to a wing-T/triple-option offense, and they seem to be doing some different things schematically on defense,” said Tone. “The keys for us on Friday are to play great defense, force turnovers, and play with great effort; if we play with all three, we will be good to go.”
The Yellow Jackets defeated the Vikings last season 47-7 at Emerald. Kickoff for Friday’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m., at Jim Fraser Field.
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