Linebackers developing as defense sets tone in second scrimmage

Linebackers developing as defense sets tone in second scrimmage

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon defense set the tone on Friday in the Hawks' second scrimmage of the preseason.

Head football coach Mike Turk said he saw some good things out of the offense, but the defense carried the day.

"Without looking at the film yet, I'd say defense had the upper hand today," Turk said after the morning scrimmage. "They pretty much dominated all day. I don't think that's due to our offense being bad as much as it is to our defense being pretty solid.

"The one thing that really impressed me with our offense today was the way we continued to compete, even after the defense had its thumb on us early. We kept plugging and trusting in each other and finally got the ball in the end zone. We've still got to get better, but that was positive."

Turk said another positive is the continued development of Huntingdon's linebackers. With five seniors at linebacker last season, the Hawks lost all three starters and the majority of their depth at the position. The five seniors, which included the Hawks' third all-time leading tackler (Kirk Johnson), combined for 137 tackles and five sacks.

"We don't have a lot of experience returning at linebacker, but we do have some talented players there," Turk said. "There is a learning curve for them, but they are picking it up. It's not possible to get as many reps for them as we'd like, but they're working and showing improvement.

"We've got some older guys that we're looking to for leadership and we've got some really talented young players that we hope are going to continue to progress and help us this year and in the coming years."

Turk said several players are still battling for the starting positions and position on the depth chart. Juniors Darius Dixon and John David Swiger are making a push for starting roles, as are newcomers Zach Brownell and Ryan Callicott. Seniors Mark Patterson and Trevor Bass and sophomore Brandon Harvell are also in the mix. Of the group, Swiger saw the most playing time last season and was the Hawks' fourth-leading tackler with 43 stops in nine games.

Turk said newcomers Quan Nelson and Jacard Townsend have also looked good in the preseason.

Huntingdon returns to the field for its 10th practice on Saturday at 9 a.m. Practice is open to the public.