Led by freshmen and sophomores in 2013, the Clinton Arrows offense showed promising signs averaging 20 points per game.
The good news in 2014 is all of the younger players are back. The bad news is that they are still very young competing against arguably the toughest schedule in the state in Class 6A.
“We’ve had a very good offseason and summer,” said third-year Arrow head coach Judd Boswell. “We’ve made tremendous progress, but you have to remember that a lot of our starters are still just 15 years old.”
Led by a couple of sophomores in the backfield, quarterback Cameron Akers, and running back Darius Maberry, CHS is expected to put up a lot of points in 2014.
New offensive coordinator Ben Shelton says the Arrows will be wide open this year on offense.
“We’re going to spread it out with more running lanes and use the whole field,” said Shelton, who in 2013 served as Sumner Hill ninth-grade head coach and an offensive assistant on varsity.
Said Shelton, “We’re going to be multiple in the things we do. We installed a lot of new variations of plays in the spring and summer. But we are also going to be old school at times in an I-formation with 2 backs and do play action off of that set.”
The Arrows appear to be very talented at the skill positions going into 2014, but the offensive line is very young and is the unknown on offense.
“The offensive line is the swing that can make our season,” said Shelton.
For the first time in recent memory, no seniors start on the offensive line and only two starters return.
Junior Cesar Comacho is the leader on the offensive line and has switched from playing guard in 2013 to offensive tackle this year. Ronnie Brown, also a junior, saw some playing time in 2013 will be at offensive guard.
At offensive center is junior Michael Nash, who played on the defensive line last season. New comer sophomore, Jordyn Leonard gets the start at the other guard position. Junior Dustin Thompson, who played junior varsity in 2013, will start at the other tackle position. Junior Hunter Crutchfield will also see playing time on the line.
New offensive line coach Robin Lee, feels very good about his offensive line unit.
“We started in the spring with the basics of stance and angels,” said Lee, who coached at Northwest Rankin High School in 2013. “They have improved greatly since the spring and learned a lot about techniques. Over the last two weeks they have really come together.”
At tight end, a couple of defensive players, sophomore Jacobi Hearn and senior Damion McAlister have made the switch to the offensive side. Hearn will still play on defense also. Junior Christian Felder will also be in the tight end mix.
At wide receiver, seniors T. J. Beverly and Rashaad Mosley have experience from 2013 and will be targets. Junior Barrett Barham returns at wide out and senior defensive back Jamel Johnson will also be a slot receiver on offense.
“We are going to be able to spread it out as well as run this year,” said Mosley. “We’ve come a long way since last year. We’re headed in the right direction as a team.”
Barrett Barham agreed. “Last year we got down early and it was a very tough year. “We are a lot closer as a team this year, and that should help us when things get tough.”
In the backfield sophomore Maberry is the leader and is a speedster in the backfield. He was a track star for the Arrow track team in the 4 x1 relays last spring. Senior Kendarius Harper will split the backfield with Maberry. Harper missed the 2013 season, but has been impressive in offseason drills.
“Cameron Akers has improved a lot in the off season at quarterback,” said Shelton. “His legs and feet action are a lot better and he is making good decisions.” Akers will be backed up by junior Kyler Johnson, who saw a lot of action in 2013.
“I feel a lot more comfortable and have improved my techniques,” said Akers, who played last January in a national all-star game for ninth-grade players.
“Our offensive line has improved a lot in the off season under Coach Lee. That makes a lot of difference for our offense.
“Our plays are more complex and our offense is getting a good feel for it.”
Offensive coordinator Ben Shelton agreed. “Our kids are excited and ready to get on the field and show how much they’ve improved,” said Shelton. “They’ve worked so hard I think that our football IQ is going to be so much better this year.”