Albany High’s Dylan Kendrix (11) and Jalen Guest (2) try to tackle Cortez Roberts (9) during a recent practice at Albany High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
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• CLASS/REGION: GHSA Region 1-AAAA
• 2013 RECORD: 2-8; missed playoffs
• COACH: Felton Williams (6th season)
• RETURNING STARTERS: Ath/S/K Malik Dungee (Sr., 6-0, 180); OL/DT Caleb Arnold (Sr., 6-1, 230); QB Trevian Jackson (Sr., 6-0, 175); OL Janerian Thomas (So., 6-3, 270); RB Traywick Kennedy (Sr., 5-9, 175); RB Jonathan Jefferson (Jr., 5-10, 215); TE/DE Joe Stone (Jr., 6-4, 210); LB Jalen Guest (Sr., 5-10, 170); S Keiron Broussard (So., 5-11, 185); CB Cortez Roberts (So., 5-11, 150)
• TOP NEWCOMERS: MLB/P Cameron Bailey (Jr., 6-2, 225); RB/DB Jerquez Broner (So., 6-1, 230); TE/DE Derrick Odom (So., 5-11, 230); WR/DB Kanautica Brown (Sr., 5-9, 170); LB/DB Dylan Kendrick (Sr., 5-11, 165)
• 2014 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 29 — Mitchell County
Sept. 5 — Terrell County
Sept. 12 — Laney
Sept. 19 — at Americus-Sumter
Sept. 27 — Dougherty
Oct. 2 — Crisp County
Oct. 10 — at Thomas County Central
Oct. 17 — Monroe
Oct. 31 — at Cairo
Nov. 7 — Region 1-AAAA Play-in
ALBANY — At times last season, Albany High football coach Felton Williams didn’t know whether to hug his players or get mad at them.
They were good enough to play with the big boys of Region 1-AAAA — at least for the first three quarters — then small blunders would send a promising game spiraling downward, sometimes out of control.
It’s those small mistakes that Williams and his coaching staff have spent time addressing this fall.
The Indians like the speed and talent they have at the skill positions, but they lack the depth on the offensive line.
“We’re going to try to use our speed to our advantage,” Williams said. “We want to use our offensive linemen to shield people. If we can shield (the defense) long enough and give our skill players a chance, we’ll be fine.”
New quarterback Trevian Jackson isn’t looking at the lack of depth up front as a hindrance. He believes the Indians’ offense has a chance to have a strong season.
“I look at it this way … I have about 2.5 seconds to get the ball out of my hands and into one of our athlete’s hands,” he said. “They can get the ball and get upfield. That’s all we need.”
A total of 10 returning starters are back, many of whom will see action on both sides of the ball. While depth will be a big concern, Williams said the key to a successful season is cutting down on the mental mistakes and for the Indians to quit beating themselves.
“We’ve got to finish the drill,” Williams said. “We’re able to start it, but we haven’t been able to finish it.”
The good news is that Albany High has solid chemistry. Senior linebacker Jalen Guest said many of the skill players have played on the same team since middle school.
Guest hopes those bonds will help the Indians improve upon last season’s finish.
“We’re all going to get tired and stuff, but we have to do what we’re supposed to do to get better and learn to play through the tiredness,” Guest said. “We’ve all been playing together since middle school, so we’ve got to just continue playing well together.”
Albany opens the season on Aug. 29, playing host to Mitchell County, the first of three straight nonregion games. The Indians visit Americus-Sumter on Sept. 19 in a Region 1-AAAA cross-over matchup before beginning subregion play on Sept. 27 when they meet Dougherty.
Williams knows the challenges the Indians face. However, he said improving is up to the team.
“We’ve got to play almost perfectly,” he said. “We can’t afford turnovers and mental mistakes. I don’t believe we will have problems scoring, but our defense is going to have to make opponents go three downs and out.”
Jackson said trimming the team’s mental mistakes will go a long way in helping the Indians improve upon last season’s finish.
He said Albany had a strong offseason of conditioning workouts and is anxious to get things going.
“We’ve focused really hard this summer,” Jackson said. “We’ve worked hard in the weight room and we’ve cut down on all the talking and the playing. If everybody will stay focused and stay on the same page, I believe we can do a lot of good things this year.”