ScoutSouth.com: Gaston's Rising Stars

Coach Swane Morris had an 8-3 season in 2006 and this year's Gaston squad looks to match or better that record. This is a young offensive team with a star in the making. Coach Morris took time with ScoutSouth.com to discuss his team.





Gaston has won their first four games by a margin of 199 to 61. With wins over Sylvania (3A 2-2;2-1) the first week followed by region victories over Gaylesville (3-1; 2-1), Collinsville (1-3; 1-2) and Spring Garden (1-3; 1-2). The latter two were offensive showcases where 134 of the 199 points were scored.

"We're very pleased with the way we are able to run the ball," Morris said. "Our young line has really come along and done a great job blocking."

"We have no senior (starters) on the line. We've got one senior that swaps in. We've got three sophomores and two juniors that start. They aren't big, but what we lack in size we make up for because they are smart. They think well, and they make adjustments. That's been the biggest thing. Anything we've faced defensively they've been able to handle."

"Last week we called a timeout and changed the blocking scheme and scored the next series. That's what I've really been impressed by. Our two tackles are pretty good in size. The right tackle (Josh Kight) is 6-1, 200 pounds, and the left tackle (Cody Short) is 6-1, 190. Not huge, but good size kids for high school football."

Talk naturally led to the exploits of Bulldog sophomore running back, Demond Buice (pronounced Bice) who has racked up 851 yards in four games including a game against Collinsville where he tied a state record by scoring eight touchdowns on 16 carries for 338 yards.

Just to prove that was no fluke, the next week against Spring Garden the sophomore ran the ball 12 times for 213 yards and five touchdowns. He also threw for a touchdown. Buice got into the end zone in those two games on better than 40% of his touches.

"Last year he played as a ninth grader," Morris said. "We didn't give him a lot of carries because we didn't really want to get him banged up much. He led Northeast Alabama in sacks last year. He had 18 sacks as a defensive end."

We asked Morris what precipitated the move. "We had a senior tailback last year. We moved him in there this year," he said.

"We expected him to be good. We didn't know he would have this kind of season. It's just been unreal."

Sophomores are limited from contact with collegiate coaches, but Morris said they are doing what they can.

"They can't ask for too much, but yes there's interest coming around," Morris said. "A lot of times you see yardage like that, and it might be a little guy that can just fly. But he's 6-2, 205 pounds. He's a legit 4.5 guy."

"He combines the best of both worlds. He's a power guy, and he's got the speed to match. If he gets on the outside, he's gone. That's what has been the key to it (success). He has the ability to run away from people once he breaks a few tackles."

Buice is bound to receive a lot of attention from fans and media as a sophomore with a lot of recruiting days ahead of him.

"He's done real well. I couldn't ask for any more of him with the way he's handled it," Morris said.

"He is only 15," Morris said for emphasis. "He's done an excellent job. He realizes those guys up front are fighting for him, and he gives them recognition all the time."

Gaston has another talented player who Morris counts for a lot of the team's success.

"Probably unsung as far as what he has done for us is Taylor Mitchell. He's a senior split end. We don't throw the ball an exceptional amount of times. But when we do throw it, we feel comfortable especially throwing it to him because he can go up and get it."

"What he does so well, probably as well as any I have ever coached, is his downfield blocking. He can stop block the best of any split end I've coached. That's what turns an 8-10 yard run into a touchdown or 30-40 yard run."

"He's a legit guy to go to the next level. He's a 4.7 (40), and he's 6-2, 175. He's a tall kid with some size on him and a real good football frame."

"He's fast enough to play the split end position (on the next level), and he's also an excellent defensive back with five interceptions (free safety) already this year."

"He's a little bit of an unknown, but he's starting to get some smaller school's attention. We're getting him ready for the clearinghouse and getting his ACT in line and stuff."

Morris talked about his two quarterback system.

'Brian Mostella is 7-for-9 passing with 85 yards, no touchdowns. Our touchdown pass came from the Buice kid. We threw a little halfback toss on the first play of the game for a 32 yard touchdown last week."

"We have to try and slow some of those guys down because when the ball goes to him, and I don't blame them, all 11 are coming for him."

"The second quarterback is Dustin Stewart. Dustin also plays running back for us. So what we do is get in the shotgun some, and let him run it. He's already got five touchdowns on the season, all rushing touchdowns."

"When Dustin goes in, we are more of a shotgun offense. A little bit like what Florida did last year when Tebow would come in and run the option from the gun."

"We've got Dustin and Demont in the backfield, and Mostella is more of a guy that runs our offense--makes sure we're lined up and runs our regular offense. We put him in the gun too. He's a good passer when we do need to throw.

"Fortunately, we haven't had that need really. Mostella is a senior, and Stewart is a junior."

Other teams are preparing defensively for Buice's success as Morris is seeing more and more as a reult.

"They are starting to load up," he said. "I'm sure we'll see it this week. We've got a real tough game this week. We're stepping up in classification, and we're going to play 2A Ranburne. They are 3-1 and playing in a tough region. Their only loss was to Woodland who was a semi-finalist last year."

"Ranburne has a very balanced attack. They run the wing-T (offense). Most people hear wing-T, and you think they run it every down, but they probably throw it close to 40-50% of the time off of play action fakes, which makes it a little tough on your defense."

"They have a very good fullback, and he does a good job. He's a hard runner. The ability to get outside with their tailback, and then you've got Will Daniels the quarterback for them. He's a senior, and we played them last year. He did a good job. He's a senior, and with that experience, you can tell that's a big thing because he really throws it well this year."

A non-region game for Week 5 has differing opinions from coaches across the state, taking into account injuries when teams jump to play teams in larger classifications. The game does not reflect as a part of a team's region play as well.

"We've been fortunate that we haven't had any injuries," Morris said. "One thing I emphasize to the kids all the time is let's concentrate and win the next game. Let's don't look down the road."

"People ask me about goals, and I say we've got a common goal. It's to win the next game we play. If we really stay focused and stay centered on that we'll be fine. This is the next game. Let's concentrate, and let's work hard and try and win this game."

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