Starting QB T.T. Barber will miss the Pirates’ first game tonight after he suffered a concussion in practice this week. Barber will return next week against Early County. (Photo by firstname.lastname@example.org)
COLQUITT -- Here comes Miller County -- right at you.
That's life in Colquitt these days, where Frank Killingsworth will have another playoff team. The Pirates were loaded with speed two years ago when they made a playoff run and they mixed it up last year and advanced to the second round, where they lost to eventual state champ and 2011 preseason No. 1 Clinch County.
The 2010 team was led by Juwan Jones, one of the best defensive ends in Georgia who also ran back punts and did a little of everything.
So is there life after Juwan?
Sure, and it's full speed ahead.
Just take T.T. Barber, who gained more than 1,100 yards last year at tailback, and move him to quarterback, and put Marvin Grant, who gained 900 yards last season, back at running back -- and then fire the starting gun.
Those guys in the trenches will be Miller County's anchors this year.
"Our offensive line will be our strength,'' Killingsworth said. "That group did a lot of growing up last year, and everybody's back except (sophomore center Jackson Fleet). The rest of them all started last year. They worked real hard in the offseason, and that's a pretty experienced group.''
It was legendary coach Lou Holtz who said once if you wanted to rob a bank and get away with it you should become an offensive lineman, because no one would ever find you.
That's how unnoticed they are. But not at Miller, where the guys up front will take center stage this season.
Seniors Ty Sheffield (6-1, 220) and Alec Cobb ( 6-0, 190) man the right side of the line and juniors David Sisson (6-0, 220) and Jakell Roseborugh (5-10, 260) make up the left side of the line.
"We're going to live and die up front,'' Killingsworth said. "We've got both our leading rushers back this year, but it doesn't matter who you have back there running the ball. If they don't block those guys are going to get smashed.''
Two years ago Miller was loaded with speed with Cosby Salter and Dre Sheffield, who was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. This year's team will try to pound the ball as well and rip off big runs.
"It's a little different than that team,'' said Killingsworth, whose team opens the season tonight at home against No. 6 state-ranked Wilcox County -- although the Pirates will be without the services of Barber for one game after he suffered a concussion in practice this week. Killingsworth said Thursday Barber will return next week.
"Those kids (two years ago) had that instant burst of speed. We will be more of a power running team," the coach added. "Both T.T. and Marvin can be power runners, but they both have speed, too. We have to do what fits our kids, and this year we're going to be a power running team with speed.''
Miller, which went 8-4 a year ago, brings back seven on offense and everyone believes this team will move the ball.
"I have faith in my offensive line,'' Barber said. "Last year they were kind of young. But they're back and they're strong and they're a little faster. They have quickness.''
That should be Miller County's calling card this season -- with Barber at the head of the table. He's big and fast, and can throw, too.
"Can he throw? Man, he can throw,'' said receiver Jacolby Jones, who is expected to be Barber's top target. "He has a strong arm and a lot of accuracy. We have speed in the backfield, and we have so many weapons.''
Barber has eased into his new role at QB.
"I feel great,'' Barber said. "I like (our backfield). It's going to work. It's speed on top of speed. We have a lot of talent. I think we can go all the way.''
Barber is also the heart of the defense, now that Jones has left.
"We had to replace a beast,'' Barber said of Jones. "But one man can't stop the show. It takes 11, and we have the 11. We have a lot of talent.''
Killingsworth knows it will be a while before he sees another player as good as Jones.
"You don't replace someone like Juwan,'' Killingsworth said."Those folks come along once in a lifetime.''
Still, the defense could be better.
Nick Huntley, a 6-2, 255-pound sophomore, could be the young surprise at Miller this season.
Huntley will play some on the offensive line, and he will play noseguard on defense, where Miller returns seven starters, including Sisson, Sheffield, Roseborough and Jaquez Igles (6-0, 260) along the line. Barber, who made 80 tackles last year at linebacker, returns and the team's top receivers, Jones and senior Adrian Hayes, will lead the secondary, along with Grant, who also starts on both sides of the ball.
"We've worked harder in the offseason,'' Grant said. "We've got a lot of speed and we've got a lot of different people with talent. We've got a lot of unknown talent.''
Miller County's 2011 season outlook
HEAD COACH: Frank Killingsworth (5th season as head coach at Miller County; 16th season overall with program).
2010 RECORD: 8-4.
ASSISTANT COACHES: Jason Houston (defensive coordinator); Nate George (DBs/WRs); Scott Warren (DL/OL); Woody Kirkland (DL/WL) .
RETURNING STARTERS: T.T. Barber (Sr., QB/LB); Ty Sheffield (Sr., OL/DL); Alec Cobb (Sr., OL/LB); David Sisson (Jr., OL/DL); Jakell Roseborugh (Jr., OL/DL); Adrian Hayes (WR/DB); Jacolby Jones (Jr., WR/DB); Marvin Grant (Jr., RB/DB); Jaquez Igles (Sr., OL/DL); Alex Anderson (Jr., OL/DL).
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Nick Huntley (So., DL/OL); Richard Sheffield (So., TE/LB); Quintravious Thomas (So., TE/LB); Brandon Benton (So., FB/DB); Antreyveous Benton (So., WR/DL).
2011 Miller County Pirates schedule
Today vs. Wilcox County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2 at Early County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Northview, Ala., 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Terrell County, 8 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Pelham, 8 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Mitchell County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Calhoun County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 vs. Randolph-Clay, 8 p.m.
Oct. 28 vs. Seminole County, 8 p.m.
Nov. 4 vs. Stewart County, 8 p.m.