Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SPORTS>> Battle rages on

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Overall solid numbers and lots of size at the line highlights this year’s North Pulaski football team. The Falcons currently sit at 50 players, with the possibility of picking up an additional two players before the start of the season.

The return of a slate of talented skill players would dominate NP football talk in most seasons, but the linemen on this year’s team bring something hard to ignore — massive size.

One who was questionable at the beginning of the summer is committed now for the season. Carlos Donnelly, a standout on the basketball team, brings his 6-9, 325 pound frame to the line, joining senior and Division-I prospect Cliff Copeland (6-7, 340).

Head coach Tony Bohannon said everyone at the line is in place at this point except for the center position. The battle for the spot between Jeff Painter and Lysander Tramble has been ongoing since the spring, with a couple of other prospects entering the fray at the start of two-a-days.

Despite the loss of solid center Caleb Phillips to graduation, the center position was supposed to be settled going into this season. But the counted-on sophomore decided not to come out for the team, opening up the summer battle.

Bohannon said that Painter is ahead of the pack at this point, but that nothing is definite.

Bohannon said the first two weeks of practice have been promising.

“It a good deal, the best it’s been in awhile,” Bohannon said. “Friday, we had a real good practice. We had two real big hits during our defensive group (drills) and that got them fired up. That’s one of the best practices we’ve had in a while.”

The excitement at North Pulaski High School for the start of football season has never been higher. Bohannon cited a snowball effect, which started with his players.

“It’s a better attitude among them,” Bohannon said. “They went through the summer part of it in shorts, and the heat didn’t bother them much. It’s just their overall general attitude. The JV from last year brought their 4-1-1 record, so they were winners. We’ve just kind of got the attitude that we expect to win.”

The Falcons had two vigorous workouts on Monday and Tuesday, but teachers meetings and picture day will give them a bit of a break today.

The NP offense looks as stellar as it has ever been, but Bohannon said there are still a few defensive wrinkles to be ironed out at this point.

“We’re still looking to get solid at linebacker and at defensive end,” Bohannon said. “We’ve got to get some backups lined up. Hopefully that will all get straightened out this week.”