Worth County head football coach Jason Tone gives instructions during Monday’s practice. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
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Worth County Rams
• REGION: GHSA Region 1-AAAA
• 2013 RECORD: 3-7; missed playoffs
• COACH: Jason Tone (2nd season)
• RETURNING STARTERS: RT JeCard Parker (Jr., 6-2, 280); RB Zytavious Anderson (Jr., 5-8, 190); C Calvin Warren (Sr., 5-10, 270); LG Quentavious Holley (Jr., 5-9, 230); RB Brandon Gibson (Sr., 5-7, 170); RB Dontavious Buford (Jr., 5-8, 175); DL Jamill Curry (Jr., 5-11, 235); OLB Cameron Farley (Jr., 5-9, 160); OLB Avery Parker (Sr., 5-7, 150); ILB Justin Crosby (Jr., 5-10, 230); S Eric Burrows (Jr., 6-1, 180); S Todderick Jackson (Jr., 6-0, 175)
• TOP NEWCOMERS: FB Justin Hope (So., 5-6, 150); TE Alex Hines (Sr., 5-9, 215); RB Chris McDaniel (So., 5-7, 170); DL Markees Jones (So., 6-1, 220)
• 2014 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 22 – Fitzgerald
Sept. 5 – at Lee County
Sept. 12 – Crisp County
Sept. 26 – at Cairo
Oct. 4 — at Dougherty
Oct. 10 – Bainbridge
Oct. 18 – at Westover
Oct. 24 – Americus-Sumter
Oct. 31 – Thomas Co. Central
Nov. 7 – Region Play-in
SYLVESTER — Todderick Jackson walked slowly across the field during a five-minute break from practice to get a drink of water.
With his helmet in his right hand, head down and his body soaked with sweat, the Worth County junior safety caught the attention of head coach Jason Tone.
“Todderick,” Tone shouts.
“It’s going to be all right. Do you need a hug? They’re free.”
Jackson smiles and keeps walking.
The atmosphere among the Worth County players are coaches is much different during preseason practice this summer. Last year, Tone was the school’s newest football coach and there were radical changes, such as the expectations of six different assistant coaches, a new offense that featured the Wing-T but with a series of misdirection and converting the defense from a 4-4 scheme to a 3-4.
But with a year under their belt, Worth County players believe 2014 will be different.
“We have finally started to work as a team,” senior linebacker Avery Parker said. “Last year, everything was new. We’ve gotten used to it, and things are coming along a lot better.”
The Rams hope to put last season’s 3-7 record behind. Despite many changes in 2013, only one game got out of hand — a 49-14 setback to Tift County in the third game of the season. The other six losses were by 14 points or less.
Worth County gained some momentum in its last two games despite losses against Westover and Monroe when the Rams lost both by a combined eight points.
“Things picked up at the end of the year,” Tone said. “Now we’re just trying to compete for four quarters. We can focus on the details now and not the big picture. I believe they’ve got the big picture down.”
Things should be much better on offense. Six starters, including a veteran offensive line, returns. A trio of running backs also return in senior Brandon Gibson and juniors Dontavious Buford and Zytavious Anderson.
Center Calvin Warren said the team has had a year to learn Tone and his staff’s offense. He believes that should pay off this season.
“We started working right after last year ended,” Warren said. “We picked out the positives and started working on them. I think our offense is going to do well this season.”
On defense, the Rams have six returners. The defensive front is thin as only one returner — junior Jamill Curry — is back. The linebacking corps and defensive secondary will be strengths.
The Rams have a scrimmage tonight with Tift County before opening their regular season next Friday at Milt Miller Field, playing host to Fitzgerald.
Tone hopes his team will continue to stay sharp and focused.
“They’re getting better, but not anywhere near where we need to be,” he said. “They’re anxious to hit somebody and see where we’re at. These guys need to finish at practice and finish in the game and stay mentally focused at all times.”