Tackles Brian Taylor, Shawn Albright lead Pittsburg into New District
PITTSBURG -- Getting out of the "District of Doom" seems like a good thing for your playoff hopes, but don't tell that to Pittsburg coach Robert Manley.
The Pirates enter 2012 no longer a member of the brutal District 16-3A, but join the new District 13-3A.
"That's what everybody thinks, we're getting away from the District of Doom. But I'm gonna tell you Atlanta and Paris, L-E and PG, North Lamar, those guys can play as good as anybody," Manley said during Wednesday morning's practice. "They'll be all we want. If you're in East Texas, you better bring your big boy panties every week. ... It's still going to be good football either way you go, down there or up here. I feel like it's the best two 3A districts in the state, and that's just the way it goes."
Pittsburg, which missed the playoffs each of the two seasons it inhabited the District of Doom, must break in a lot of new skill players, Manley said. But the Pirates will have a wealth of talent on the offensive line.
Right tackle Brian Taylor (6-3, 270) and left tackle Shawn Albright (6-4, 240) are both potential Division I FBS recruits and lead a group that returns in its entirety. Taylor has committed to SMU, while Albright is garnering a lot of attention from another Metroplex school who could offer him soon. Manley said Taylor is a solid commitment to the Mustangs.
"(Taylor has) been down there (to SMU) and talked to them two or three times. Brian's a good kid and has started for us for three years," Manley said. "He's going to be a good-looking kid when he fills out. They're thinking a center- or guard-type kid. We're excited for him. That's good to get that kind of offer early.
"North Texas is on (Albright) pretty heavy. He's already been to their camp and they're coaches have been to see him several times."
Taylor and Albright will block for new quarterback Garrett Truitt, a 6-5, 185-pound junior who Manley believes could be an "outstanding player."
"Garrett Truitt has done a great job," Manley said. "He's done well learning the offense."
Truitt will depend on Ty Hammonds (6-4, 195), one of Pittsburg's few returning skill players, in the passing game. Hammonds caught 22 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns last season, when he was also one of East Texas' best punters, averaging 37.0 yards on 36 boots. Derek Allen (5-10, 180) could see more time carrying the ball after getting some experience in 2011. He ran for 367 yards and four scores in limited action, while also making 51 tackles at linebacker.
That's where Carl Leonard (5-9, 165) returns after a solid junior campaign, said Manley, who pointed to newcomer Calvin Bates (6-3, 215), a senior end, as a potential sleeper for the Pirates' defense.
"We're just trying to get into the flow. Obviously you're not going to get any varsity experience until you get out there and play," Manley said. "We lost 19 good seniors so we're just trying to get kids where they haven't been."