This spring Class 2A Top 10 includes four teams that made changes at the top as Boyd Buchanan, Marion County, Forrest and Hampton saw their head coaches leave and go to bigger schools. All four schools promoted from within as Offensive Coordinators Carter Cardwell (Boyd Buchanan), Joey Mathis (Marion County) and Brent Johns (Forrest) as well as Defensive coordinator Michael Lunsford (Hampton) were all given the keys to their programs.
All four coaches also will be head coaches for the first time in their coaching careers which will make for an interesting dynamic as well.
Last season, Trezevant behind Clemson commitment Cordarrian Richardson outlasted Marion County 40-35 to win the school’s first title. The Bears are the favorites this season as they return 19 starters.
Marion County, the 2A runner up the last two seasons will return 16 starters including Blue Cross Bowl Defensive MVP Alex Kirkendoll, while Austin East will looks to break through and have a great season as the Road runners return 20 starters from a nine win team in 2015.
Two other schools in Adamsville and Waverly are looking to bounce back from early playoff exits last season and make lengthy playoff trips this season as they round out the Top 5 of the spring Top 10.
For the fifth straight year, I will offer my Spring Top 10 teams in each classification starting with Class 2A this week.
My Top 10s are based on conversations with coaches in 2A across the state as well as returning personnel that the teams have back in 2016.
10. Meigs County Tigers
Last Year’s Record- 4-6
Head Coach- Jason Fitzgerald
Offensive Coordinator- Walt Cameron
Defensive Coordinator- Jason Fitzgerald
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 7/7
Offense-Twins Open Two Back
Key Returnees- Jesse Rayl (DB, Sr.), Logan Fowler (RB, Sr.), Zy Moore (WR/RB/DB, Sr.), Cam Harris Jr. (WR/DB, Sr.), Mitchell Fowler (OL/DL, Jr.), Clint Oliver (QB, Sr.), Dylan Hiefnar (OL/DL, Sr.), Brenden Swanson (LB/RB, Sr.), Luke Hair (OL, Soph.), Marshall Brantley (OL, Soph.), Zach Meadows (OL, Jr.)
Key Losses- Ryan Rayl (DL), Marcus Smock (OL/LB), Tyler Lawson (RB/LB), Alec McKenzie (OL/DL), Blaze Bunch (LB), Tristan Fischer (WR/LB)
Player(s) Looking To Step Up- Zy Moore. Meigs coach Jason Fitzgerald expects Moore to really step up and lead this year after being a solid player the last couple of years.
Spring Practice- April 26- May 8
Spring Optimism- The Tigers have a big senior class (27 to be exact) and with that big leadership class and the return of several skill players, the people in Decatur are excited for the 2016 season.
Spring Concerns- Lack of depth concerns the Tiger coaches especially along the offensive line as several sophomores and juniors are in the mix to help them develop depth.
9. Boyd Buchanan Buccaneers
Last Year’s Record- 11-1, lost to Tyner in second round
Enrollment- 487.8 (271 multiplied by 1.8)
Head Coach- Carter Cardwell (0-0 overall, first year at Boyd Buchanan)
Offensive Coordinator- Carter Cardwell
Defensive Coordinator- TBA
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 5/6
Key Returnees- Ross Wortman (WR/DB, Sr.), Kohl Henke (WR/FS, Jr.), Will Watkins (LB, Jr.), Elliott Cochran (OL, Sr.), Jeremy Borders (RB/DB, Sr.), Asa Owens (OL/DL, Jr.), Kade Owens (TE/DE, Sr.), Michael Mincey (DB, Jr.), Kell Stott (DE, Sr.), Sebastian Oyler (DE, Jr.)
Key Losses- Eli Legg (OL/DL), Cooper Hodge (QB), Jack Keebler (TE/DE), EJ Matthews (RB/LB), Jake Harden (OL/LB),
Players Looking To Step Up- Jeremy Borders, Asa Owens Kade Owens. Borders will need to step up at running back with the Owens brothers will be big on both sides of the line.
Spring Practice- May 9
Spring Optimism- The Buccaneers are coming off an undefeated regular season and saw their season come to an end prematurely in the second round. 11 starters return to the lineup including dual threat junior Kohl Henke.
Spring Concerns- Like most smaller programs with only 40 to 50 players on the roster, the Buccaneers are worried about depth across the board.
8. Grace Christian Academy Rams
Last Year’s Record- 7-6, lost to Hampton in Quarterfinals
Enrollment- 545.4 (303 multiplied by 1.8)
Head Coach- Randy McKamey (83-25 overall, nine years at GCA)
Offensive Coordinator- Randy McKamey
Defensive Coordinator- John Brewster
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 3/3
Offense- Power Spread
Key Returnees- Nick White (OL, Sr.), Luke Smith (OL/DL, Jr.), Bryson Morris (QB, Jr.) Ben Arnold (TE/DE, Jr.), Jared Rash (OL, Sr.) Jadon Tullock (OL, Jr.), Eli Norhorn, (TE/DE, Soph.), Bradley Rash, (LB, Soph.), Jackson Daniel, (DT, Fr.), Chandler Williams, (DB, Soph.), Zach Headrick (WR/FS, Sr.), Andrew Sorrells (LB/RB, Jr.), Luke Kirby, (QB/DB, Soph.), Jonah Duggins (SS/RB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Jimmy Clevenger (WR/DB), Dylan Todd (OG/DT) Rhett Elwood (TE/DE), Wade Sluss (RB/S), Tyler Beck (FB/LB), Kellen Pettus (OT), Griffin Witt (OG/LB), Seth Paczkowki (OL), Hayden Coffman (RB/LB), Chandler Bowman (DE), Blake Gilliland (DT), Nathan Pettit (DB), Jon Bouvier (S), Robby Windham (S), Lee Poff (DB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Nick White and Andrew Sorrells. White, a massive offensive tackle started the last two years and will be expected to help an offensive line that has only two starters back. Sorrells should make a big leap after starting at middle linebacker last season.
Spring Practice-April 25 – May 14
Spring Optimism- The Rams are coming off a quarterfinal round season last year and despite returning only six starters, they feel this group is ready to get GCA back to a deep run in the playoffs.
Spring Concerns- A lot of change has come to GCA as they have changed both offense (from the Wing T to the Spread) and defense (4-2-5 from the 4-3), so getting comfortable in both will be paramount.
7. Forrest Rockets
Last Year’s Record- 10-2, lost to Marion County in second round
Head Coach- Brent Johns (0-0 in first year at Forrest)
Offensive Coordinator- Brent Johns
Defensive Coordinator- Eli Stephenson
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 5/5
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees- Slayton Wild (OLB/RB, Sr.), Jacob Jones (RB/FS, Sr.), Billy Clanton (MLB/TE,SR), Anthony Kritz (DB, Sr.), Zach Russell (DL/OL, Sr.), Layton Bennett (QB, Jr.), Josh Meglis (QB, Soph.)
Key Losses- Neyland Darnell (OL/DL), Boone Sweeney (OL/DL), Jake Elkins (DB), David Andrews (QB), Tristan Sawyer (OL)
Players Looking To Step Up- Josh Hill Offensive Tackle, Dylan Kydd Offensive Guard
Spring Practice- April 26-May 5
Spring Optimism- The Rockets under the watchful eye of first year coach Brent Johns will have a two headed monster returning in backs Slayton Wild and Jacob Jones.
Spring Concerns-Forrest will use the spring to find starters along the offensive line as well as trying to figure out their quarterback as junior Layton Bennett and sophomore Josh Meglis will battle for the position.
6. Hampton Bulldogs
Last Year’s Record- 13-1, lost to Marion County in semifinals
Head Coach- Michael Lunsford (0-0 in his first year at Hampton)
Offensive Coordinator- Michael Lunsford
Defensive Coordinator- Jake Jenkins
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 6/5
Offense- Multiple I
Key Returnees- Adam McClain (RB/LB, Sr.), Clay Fletcher (OL, Sr.), Austin Boling (OL, Sr.), Dakota Sanchez (FB/LB, Sr.), CJ Wilson (OL/DL, Jr.), Jason Russell (QB, Jr.), Dakota Crumley (WR/DB, Sr.), Danny Winters (OL/DL, Sr.), Hunter Davenport (RB/WR/DB, Jr.), Curtis Carden (DE/TE, Sr.)
Key Losses- John Cole (OL/DL), Coby Jones (QB/S), Jerry Lunsford (RB), Bailey Johnson (DE),
Players Looking To Step Up- Jason Russell and Dakota Crumley. Russell will step in at quarterback replacing a very talented Coby Jones while Crumley needs to step up to lead the Bulldog receiving corps.
Spring Practice-May 4th- May 17th
Spring Optimism- The Bulldogs are coming off a semifinal berth and return the line backing corps as well as some very good fullbacks.
Spring Concerns- Hampton will have to rebuild their secondary on defense and their wide receivers group on offense.
5. Waverly Tigers
Last Year’s Record- 9-2, lost to Jackson Christian in first round
Head Coach- Matt McConnell (18-5 overall and in two years at Waverly)
Offensive Coordinator- Matt McConnell
Defensive Coordinator- Zack Rogowski
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 5/9
Key Returnees- Johnny Kryzemoski (OL/LB, Sr.), Jared Neblett (TE/LB, Sr.), Bryant Crawford (LB, Sr.), Austin Malone (RB/FS, Sr.), Kennan Rye (WR/DB, Jr.), Carson Short (TE/DL, Sr.), Tyler Kryzemoski (RB/FS, Jr.), David Harrell (RB/LB, Jr.), Mason Sinkler (OL/DL, Jr.), Tucker Eckenrode (OL/DL, Sr.), Gavin Stanfield (QB, Soph.), JD Dixon (WR/DB, Soph.), Montez Bradley (RB/LB, Soph.) Micheal Jackson (RB/LB, Jr.), Jacob Breeden (OL/DL, Jr.), Matthew Thomas (OL/DL, Soph.)
Key Losses- Devin Palk (RB), Laine Emerson (LB/OL), Trey Linville (OL/DL), Dalton Bernard (OL/DL), Taylor Rudolph (WR/DB), Dylan Capps (DE), Cody Lynn (OL/DL), Jesse Dreaden (WR/DB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Jacob Breeden and Matthew Thomas. Both players will be looking to step up and help lead the offensive and defensive lines for the Tigers to be successful in 2016.
Spring Practice-May 4th – May 19th
Spring Optimism- The Tiger defense should be stout as they return nine starters back including all four linebackers. The development of sophomore quarterback Gavin Stanfield who passed for 2,200 yards as a freshman has the locals excited as well.
Spring Concerns- The biggest concern will be the development in the offensive line as the Tigers lost four starters, the quicker they develop the better off Waverly will be.
4. Adamsville Cardinals
Last Year’s Record- 10-2, lost to Trinity Christian in second round
Head Coach- Brandon Gray (85-36 in 10 years at Adamsville)
Offensive Coordinator- Brandon Gray
Defensive Coordinator- Rennard Woodmore
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 6/6
Offense- Multiple I
Key Returnees- Will Linam (K, Sr.), Ryan Nixon (ATH, Sr.), Chase Burdette (LB, Sr.), Dylan Whirley (RB/LB, Sr.) Dylan Lott (QB, Sr.), Kyle Moore (TE/OL, Sr.), Braden Austin (TE/OL, Jr.), , Hunter Wicker (TE/OL, Jr.), Tylan Walker (RB, Jr.), Chase Boudreaux (RB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Benji Smith (OL), Dylan Sweat (OL/DL), Blake Sweat (OL/DL), Hutch Hefner (LB), Austin Cotner (QB/DB), Noah Martin (OL/DL), Laderrick Means (RB),
Players Looking To Step Up-Kyle Moore, Braden Austin and Hunter Wicker. All three offensive linemen will be key to the Cardinal success and them taking a step up will be huge for Adamsville.
Spring Practice- April 12-24
Spring Optimism- Coach Brandon Gray likes his skill players and thinks it will be the fastest team he has fielded in his decade at Adamsville.
Spring Concerns- The Cardinals will have to rebuild the offensive line and will have to find depth on the defensive line as well.
3. Austin East Roadrunners
Last Year’s Record- 9-3, lost to Hampton in second round
Head Coach- Jeff Phillips (12-20 in four years at AE)
Offensive Coordinator- Garrett Hughes
Defensive Coordinator- Antonio Mays
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 10/10
Key Returnees- Darius Harper (QB, Sr.), Shannon Cozart (SS, Sr.), Kashif Warren (WR, Sr.), Calvin Wilson (OL, Jr.) Kajuan Hale-Ligon (WR, Jr.) Jahson Jackson (RB, Jr.), Lavontre Chandler (DE, Sr.), Xavier Ligon (WR, Sr.) Chris Stevenson (LB, Soph.), Gedarian Mobley (RB, Sr.), Keanu Prigmore (LB, Sr.), Tim Forbes (DE, Sr.), Zacc Cooke (DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Bradley Neal (OL)
Players Looking To Step Up- Keanu Prigmore, Tim Forbes and Zacc Cooke. All three seniors will be counted on to provide a big shot in the arm on the defensive side for the Roadrunners.
Spring Practice- March 21
Spring Optimism- Besides Trezevant, Austin East had the most athletes on the offensive side of the ball in 2A, led by quarterback Darius Harper, a 3,000 yard passer, a 1,000 receiver in Kashif Warren as well as junior receiver Kajuan Hale-Ligon and junior running back Jahson Jackson.
Spring Concerns- The Roadrunner coaches are preaching fundamentals and patience on defense as they return 10 starters on the defensive side.
2. Marion County Warriors
Last Year’s Record- 12-3, lost to Trezevant in state title game
Head Coach- Joey Mathis (0-0 in first year at Marion)
Offensive Coordinator- Joey Mathis
Defensive Coordinator- TBA
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 7/9
Offense- Wing T
Defense- 30 Stack
Key Returnees- Hunter McClain (LB, Sr.), Alex Kirkendoll (TE/LB, Sr.), Eli Morrison (OL, Sr.), Logan Campbell (OL, Sr.), Cory Tucker (OL/DL, Sr.), Jacob Saylors (RB/DB, Jr.), Ty Heifner (OL/DL, Sr.), Hunter Zeman (QB/LB, Sr.), Guy Hansard (LB, Sr.), Kane Hale (WR/FS, Jr.), Cory Murray (RB/DB, Sr.), Ishmael Avila (OL/DL, Sr.), Nick Capps (DB, Jr.), Brandon Matthews (OL, Sr.),
Key Losses- Josh Henderson (RB/DB), Bryce Massengale (WR), Logan Walters (QB), Bradley Baxter (LB/TE), Matt Harveston (WR), Jake Allender (OL), Christian Stephens (K), Tyler Wildermuth (OL),
Players Looking To Step Up- Guy Hansard and Hunter Zeman. Both seniors will need to step up as Hansard joins an already loaded line backing corps while Zeman will become the quarterback after playing running back last year.
Spring Practice- May 1-15
Spring Optimism- Will the third time be the charm for the Warriors, who have made the last two 2A Finals? The offensive line and the line backing corps will be the strengths as Marion returns four starters on the line and you won’t find two better linebackers then Alex Kirkendoll and Hunter McClain.
Spring Concerns- Staying healthy, gaining overall depth on both sides of the ball and improved play at quarterback will be huge things to work on in spring practice.
1. Trezevant Bears
Last Year’s Record- 13-2, defeated Marion County in state title game
Head Coach- Teli White (82-33 in nine years at Trezevant)
Offensive Coordinator- Jerrell Stearnes
Defensive Coordinator- Antwon Wellington
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 10/9
Offense- I Formation
Key Returnees- Cordarrian Richardson (RB, Sr., Clemson commitment), Antonio Nelson (OL, Sr.), Tywon Johnson (QB, Sr.), Tijuan Mason (WR, Sr.), Johnathan Gatewood (WR, Sr.), Marquell Dailey (OL, Jr.), Jamal Lynn (OL, Sr.), Chase Callaway (OL/DL, Sr.), Wanya Thomas (DL, Sr.), Joshua Reed (FB, Jr.), Keveon Mullins (WR, Soph.), Justin Shelton (OL, Sr.), Jaylen Morman (OL, Sr.), Jondarius Smalls (LB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Justin Swift (LB), Jutarian Malone (WR),
Players Looking To Step Up- Sammy Swing and Xzavier Greer. Swing is a sophomore athlete that could get snaps at quarterback or wide receiver while Greer will take over the middle linebacker spot for the departed Justin Swift.
Spring Practice- April 27- May 8
Spring Optimism- So many athletes on both sides gives coach Teli White a lot of options and starts with Clemson commitment Cordarrian Richardson a stud at running back that will run behind a huge and very physical offensive line.
Spring Concerns- Despite being the defending state champion, the Bears don’t bring a lot of numbers to the table as Trezevant only has barely 40 players on the roster, so depth is a major concern.
Eight More Teams To Keep Your Eye On- Happy Valley, Jackson Christian, McKenzie, Memphis Mitchell, Rockwood, Scotts Hill, Trinity Christian and Tyner.
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