September 5, 2002
Tigers 2002 Football Team Looking To Make It Back Into State Playoffs
While first year head coach Brent Bondurant is a familiar sight for Scotland County football fans the Tigers leader will have some new faces in key positions this season.
Topping that list will be quarterback Curtis Cochran. The senior was one of the team's leading receivers last season proving his athleticism. He made the transition after spending his freshman and sophomore seasons quarterbacking the junior varsity squad, providing him with plenty of experience as a play caller.
Cochran will replace Aarron Holt who completed 93 of 155 pass attempts for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The offensive line, which will be equally as important, also has undergone changes due to graduation. Seniors Brett Masden and Michael Lodewegen will anchor the line after sharing time last season on the varsity squad. Four other upperclassmen will fill out the line making it an experienced squad. Andrew Bulen will team up with Masden at the tackle spots while Travis Onken will serve as the other guard opposite of Lodewegen. Joshua Marlowe and Aaron Cline will play center.
"These guys will be key to our success this year as we are going to be a pound 'em out football squad," Bondurant said. "We're fairly big up front and I think this group can be one of our strengths."
Another strength will be the Tigers running back stable. Juniors Aaron Dale and Joel Myers head up a group of four talented runners. Tim Robinson and Jared Shelley both saw time in the varsity backfield last year as freshmen. They give the group plenty of depth and may see more time if Bondurant uses the wishbone formation that the team has been getting familiar with in pre-season practice.
Gone is leading rusher Jarrod Talbert and starting fullback Jeff McBee who combined for just under 700 yards and five TDs.
Dale was the second leading rusher in 2001 with 332 yards on 69 carries. Myers took the ball 38 times for 274 yards and three scores. Robinson got 15 carries for 63 yards and Shelley racked up 50 yards on just four attempts.
The backs will team with Cochran as key cogs in the offense as Bondurant said the Tigers will be running more option formations this year to take advantage of the strong offensive line.
While the ground game will be a big key for SCR-I the Tigers have traditionally had strong teams through the air and this year could be the same. Cochran had good passing numbers two years ago and should be able to take advantage of opponents' defenses keying on stopping the run.
He'll have several talented targets to choose from. Senior Chase Moore is the team's leading returning threat at the wide receiver spot. Moore had five receptions for 51 yards last season.
Sophomore Jason Findling likely will line-up opposite Moore at receiver. Clint Cottrell will provide Cochran a big target from the tight end spot where Eric Long also will see playing time.
The group will have to make up for the loss of all-conference performer Kirk Stott who topped SCR-I with 34 receptions for 452 yards and three TD's. Cochran was the deep threat with six touchdowns and 431 yards on 26 receptions. Also gone is the third receiver, Tim Buford, who grabbed 14 passes for 167 yards and a score.
Scotland County returns plenty of experience on the defensive side of the ball where a number of the offensive starters will serve double duty.
"That's going to be tough for us, making injuries a key to the season as we are just not very deep this season," Bondurant stated. "We have several players in their first seasons of football so hopefully they can contribute as the season unfolds and they gain experience."
Onken, Lodewegen, Masden, Cline and Marlowe will play the defensive tackle and nose guard positions. Myers and Robinson will flank them at the end positions filling out the defensive front five.
Dale will anchor the linebacker crew, returning as the starting middle linebacker after leading the team in tackles in 2001. Shelley and Long will start at outside linebackers.
Moore returns as a starting defensive back, moving over from safety to start at cornerback. Either Findling or Thomas Miller will hold down the other corner while Cottrell takes over as safety.
SCR-I will try to improve on a third place finish in the Tri-Rivers Conference in 2001 which saw the squad tie for third place with Clark County and Putnam County.
Brookfield, which was a perfect 7-0 last year is once again the favorite for the league title. They lost first team running back Brook White but little brother Brandon is just a junior and is coming off second-team all-conference honors last year. He will have lots of room to run behind arguably the league's top offensive line.
After going 6-1 last year Schuyler County will have to fill some huge holes including league MVP, quarterback Matt Oliver, and fellow all-conference performers, running back Josh Lindquist, receiver Trevor Tallman and linemen Matt Jacobs and Willie Sanchez.
Sophomore quarterback Ian Gilworth will lead Putnam County as the Midgets try to shoot up in the standings. He'll have to find new targets this year after losing both his top receivers to graduation.
Clark County will have to deal with the loss of the league's top running back last year, Kyle Gares as well as quarterback Greg Nutter.
Knox County could be the most improved team in 2002. After going 2-5 last year the Eagles return much of the core from a year ago and will be looking to make strides.
North Shelby, the final member of the four team 1A district this year with SCR-I, Knox County and Schuyler County, was 1-6 last year and likely will continue the rebuilding process in 2002 along with Milan, which was 0-7 last year.