While the Purple Hurricanes are without offensive lineman Justin Floyd — a Furman signee — and defensive lineman J.D. Jones — a Middle Tennessee State signee — this spring, the bulk of Cartersville’s linemen return.
That is not the case in the backfield nor the secondary.
“We gotta obviously fill some holes that we’re created by our seniors,” Canes coach Frank Barden said. “In the backfield, we gotta replace … Jamie [Jackson] and Talique [Cochran] and Kendall [Martinez] and Charles [Owens]. … And we got some good young backs that are doing well. We moved [rising senior] Josh Davis over from linebacker to fullback, so he’s done well. So offensively, [we] just [need to] fill in some holes as far as skill guys.
“Defensively, it’s been fun because … we’re running well. We’re running to the ball and getting after it. I like seeing the defensive guys practicing and playing hard. We got a lot of the D-line back, other than J.D. We got a lot of the linebackers back, other than [Aaron Foster]; we got Brandon Wells back and Ricky Beachum back. And then in the secondary — again, that’s where we gotta fill the holes — Josh Cooper is our only returning starter in the secondary, but Matthew Bryson played a lot, and we moved Hayes Linn over from receiver to safety this spring.”
Further illustrating how little Cartersville will have to replace extends to special teams, too, where super kicking tandem Colin Barber and Preston Slemp return for the punting and kicking duties, respectively.
The Canes also return starting quarterback Tyler Will, who took over for the team down the stretch last season. Will should join the team during the summer after baseball season ends.
“Tyler Will’s back, and he’s not out here this spring but he’s in baseball, so Brooks [Barden] is doing the quarterbacking this spring,” coach Frank Barden said.
Barden has looked to his experienced linemen to help set the tone for the spring, which he said has an impact on the upcoming season.
“We got a lot of seniors in the offensive line … and a lot of seniors on the defensive front, in the defensive line and at linebacker,” he said. “Those are the things that we gotta do, is make sure that our seniors do a good job leading and setting the pace for [next season]. What you do right now is what [gets you ready] for next fall.”
After a good offseason of workouts, the time has begun for the results to show up on the field.
“We’ve worked hard in the weight room and we’ve had a good year in the weight room. Now it’s just going out on the field and translating it from the weight room to the field,” Barden said. “The biggest thing is what’s up next, and right now finishing up spring practice is what’s next and finding out [what] the roles are that these kids are gonna take. … So I guess the biggest thing we’re after is, bottom line, who’s gonna show up and go to work and then find those guys and put them in a spot to go win for us.”
“There’s no question, [for] people [that have] followed us, we got some good young skill guys coming, and there [are] some good skill guys that are competing out here — young kids that are competing with these older kids,” he continued. “So competition makes you better, and that’s what we’re excited about.”
Cartersville concludes spring practice with scrimmages scheduled for Saturday. Cartersville Middle scrimmages at 11 a.m. followed by the Canes’ junior varsity at noon and the team’s varsity at 1 p.m.