Chapel Hill Experiencing a Personnel Overhaul
NEW CHAPEL HILL -- Avery Saenz, Anthony Kincade, Avery Henderson, Andrew Tucker, Sir Calvin Wallace, and a host of other standouts from Chapel Hill's 2011 Class 3A Division I title team must be replaced, and that's exactly what coach Thomas Sitton and the Bulldogs were working toward Friday in their first day in pads.
"We'll have a lot of guys that played on Thursday night last year that will have to do a great job of stepping up this year," Sitton said. "We had a really good offseason. Our summer camp was good and we're expecting those guys to be able to play fast on Friday nights.
"I like our enthusiasm right now, our energy. We've got a lot of young guys right now and we're trying to find out who's going to be where and who's going to be what. The energy and enthusiasm is real good right now and we've had four good days of practice. We're coming off the ball well and hopefully we can just continue to get better and better every day."
Only three starters return from last year's 15-0 team, but they're good ones. Joseph Clark (5-9, 175) had 139 tackles starting as a sophomore safety and ran for more than 400 yards as a running back. Senior Tre Allen (6-0, 230), who recently committed to Arkansas State, will be a key once again in Chapel Hill's offense from his H-back position. He scored 12 touchdowns in 2011 and will also play defensive end this season. Then there's junior linebacker Wesley Thompson (6-2, 190), who had 95 tackles last season and will join Clark in Chapel Hill's fleet of tailbacks.
Sitton said a few other players had emerged as potential big names.
"Gabriel Robinson's going to be good on both sides of the ball at receiver and corner. Brandon Upshaw, our center, is doing a great job right now," Sitton said. "Jamarcus McCowin will also be another corner and receiver for us. We've got several. It's all new ones so it'd be too many to name right now. The kids are doing well and practicing hard and we're having a lot of fun with them."
Two players are competing at the quarterback spot, which will present the unenviable task of replacing Saenz, who threw for more than 4,500 yards and 52 touchdowns the past two seasons despite missing six games during the middle of 2011.
Former Jacksonville starter Andrew Black (6-0, 180), who accounted for almost 2,400 total yards as a sophomore for the Indians, is in the mix for the Bulldogs' starting job after moving during the offseason.
"Andrew Black and Lex Heckel both are doing a phenomenal job running the offense right now," Sitton said.
Chapel Hill scrimmages at Nacogdoches at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs visit Lindale in an Aug. 31 season opener.