Mid-Carolina coach Louie Alexander is far from calling 2013 a rebuilding year despite the fact he has two offensive and three defensive starters returning.
The Rebels probably will field one of the youngest teams in Alexander’s nine seasons on the job, and, after going through preseason camp and several scrimmages, he still hasn’t gotten an identity for his team.
“I can be honest and tell you I don’t know how good or how bad we’re going to be,” Alexander said. “We have so many young guys and they have to grow up, and however the progression goes will determine how good we’ll be.”
Alexander believes he has more skill position players than he’s ever had. The Rebels ran the double wing for the past seven seasons but have opened things up with more spread and spread option formations.
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The learning process has been slow.
“We’re getting some more skill kids to come through our program, so we’ve been able to change what we do on both offense and defense,” Alexander said. “With that being said, it’s been a slow process. We’ve had to keep things very vanilla. We probably won’t be able to do the things we want to do early on, but we’ve gotten better every day, and that’s all we can ask for.”
Running backs Ben Chandler and Dante Boyd are the two returning starters on offense. Chandler more than likely will get the bulk of the carries — at least early on.
“He’s a senior running back and he was one of main ball carriers in the double wing, so we plan on feeding it to him a bunch,” Alexander said.
Trae Green likely will start the season at quarterback. He is one of the better athletes on the team and is making the transition from wing back on the junior varsity level. Austin Shealy will see time at quarterback. Chris Edwards is expected to be his main target at wide receiver.
“Trae is one of our better athletes that we moved from wing back to quarterback,” Alexander said. “He’s throwing it well and running some spread option.”
The offensive line feature five new starters. None of them have varsity experience, but they’ve been together the past two years on the junior varsity team. One of the biggest issues going into tonight’s season-opener with Class 3A defending state champion Hartsville is three of the five projected starting linemen are battling injuries.
The defense will be led by a group of sophomore linebackers who are short on reps but as talented a group as Alexander has seen. KD Gray, Landon Dowd and Rashon Graham will form a solid nucleaus to build around. Ty Glymph has been a standout at free safety and is the signal caller on defense.
Trimone Hall-Gantt and Johnathan Wheeler have been pleasant surprises at defensive end, and Savon Jones will play spur.
Alexander hopes the Rebels will be able to turn the corner by the time region play begins.
“We lost a lot of close football games, and that was because we didn’t have a lot of depth and we didn’t make plays late when we had to,” Alexander said. “If these kids grow up quickly, we have a chance to be a lot better than last year.”