THE BLYTHEWOOD Bengals will head into the summer feeling good about themselves after a strong showing at spring practice, despite a glitch that cost them eight days of hitting. The helmets the Bengals were wearing were rated too low by the district, and the Bengals managed two days of hitting; but according to coach Dan Morgan, they did just fine.
“We ran practice like we do summer workouts and just had the shells with no hitting,” said Morgan. “We know who most of these kids are and what they can do, so we actually got a lot done.”
The Bengals enter the summer with five returning starters on offense and newcomers who will be key players. Returning at quarterback will be second-year starter David Isreal, who had a solid sophomore season in 2013 despite not joining the team until August.
At running back, Osei Thomas, a junior who was an eight-quarter player in 2013, will be the go-to guy. When the Bengals throw the football, look for 6-foot-5 Trey Churn to be the threat, along with JoJo Richardson, who has moved to wide receiver from running back. Tight end Eric Weber will be a key contributor in the passing game, as well.
On the offensive line, the Bengals return three starters, including Tom Neal, Aaron Lamb, and Jason Jeffers.
Defensively, four starters return. Defensive tackle Terrell Vaughn will be a fourth-year varsity player. Kevin Anderson will line up at nose.
At linebacker, All-State player Hasaan Belton will anchor, along with Zavion Holmes, who recently transferred from Gaffney.
The secondary has a lot of talent, with another all-stater at cornerback in Dominique Lemon. Jason Curry will be at weakside strong safety in the five-man secondary. Kris Pam, Tyler Kelly, and D’Andre Fletcher will complete the group.
One weapon the Bengals have the luxury of using is senior kicker Tucker Smith. Smith will handle all kicking and punting duties and is a weapon defensively with his kickoffs and punts, as well as offensively with his ability to nail field goals from as far as 50 yards out.