"We are a year or two away from having a quality football team again," said Coach Catlett, who is preparing for his fifth season as the top Dragon. "We are in no way giving up on this season as we have some outstanding seniors leading the younger guys. They have a lot of pride and will battle every Friday night."
Six starters return to form a strong nucleus on offense which should boast a solid front five along the offensive line. Senior center Matt Metcalf (6'1" 230) returns to anchor the O-line after an All Region performance a year ago. Metcalf is joined on the front wall by two fellow senior stalwarts at tackle in Luke Brockwell (6'3" 240) and Todd Tinker (6'0" 220). The guards will be senior Robert Schmidt (6'0" 200) and sophomore Chris Ledford (6'0" 265) who has good potential according to his coach.
The beneficiaries of all that beef up front will be the running backs paced by junior Jesse Souder (5'9" 170) who was the leading rusher for Clinton a year ago. The fullback should be junior Zach Burns (5'9" 210) who had a great off season in the weight room. Sophomore Tony Phillips (5'9" 150) has good instincts and will be a factor in the backfield. Junior Matt Taylor (6'0" 190) has potential to help.
An experienced quarterback is a serious question mark heading into the season. Junior Jimmy Manning (6'0" 160) and sophomore Michael York (5'11" 155) are the top candidates to be the Dragons' signal caller. They will take their battle into the fall and both should see plenty of action under center.
"We have good athletes at the skill positions but they are untested," said Coach Catlett. Senior James Horton (6'1" 190) is a solid tight end. Sophomore Jonathan Dye (5'9" 150) will play wide receiver and will also return punts. Dye has big play potential with the ability to take the ball to the house from anywhere on the field. Hassan Abdulrahman (5'9" 160) hopes to make his mark at receiver while also handling the kicking duties for Clinton. He has a strong leg and will be a nice weapon on field goal attempts.
The Dragons' could be breathing fire on the defensive side of the football as the front seven should be stout. Junior Eric Hensley (6'6 260) is a mainstay at defensive end. Hensley earned All Region honors as a sophomore and has good speed and potential for greatness. He is a college prospect. Fellow junior Kyle Kinser (5'11" 240) will line up opposite Hensley giving Clinton a nice tandem at end. Kinser is the strongest kid on the team, is fast and aggressive according to Coach Catlett. Sophomores Dustin Godsey (5'10" 260) and Ledford played extensively as freshmen and could be the tackles. Junior Adam Smith (5'11" 250) has positioned himself for playing time in the defensive line.
The linebackers are all juniors led by Marcus Miles (5'10" 185) who was the Dragons third leading tackler a year ago. Josh Morrison (6'0" 220) was moved to linebacker from end in the spring and is a headhunter. Chad Reep (6'1" 190) is a big play guy and a good athlete while Taylor is fighting for quality playing time as well at linebacker.
The secondary is a work in progress but senior Aaron Wright (5'8" 155) and junior Corey Chapman (5'8" 155) should nail down starting spots. Experience in the defensive backfield is a major concern. The Dragons will have to work to avoid being susceptible to an air raid.
The Clinton Dragons should be much improved after winning only two games a year ago. The biggest problem is trying to rebuild in one of the toughest regions in the State of Tennessee which features three time defending State Champion Maryville, powerful Knox Central, always strong Powell and Halls. While the Dragons may indeed restart the fire this season there is little doubt the spark could turn into an inferno next season and beyond.
Pigskin Preview Prediction- 3-6
Playoff Contender- No
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