Carter Hornets

The Carter High School Green Hornets have a problem. Despite making good progress during the past several seasons on the football field, it is difficult to measure that improvement because Carter plays in the toughest region in the State of Tennessee. Region 2-4A has three time defending state champion Maryville, plus perennial powers Knoxville Central and Powell and always rugged Halls, Clinton and improving Knoxville West.

Into the breach stepped Head Coach Heath Woods a year ago. Carter was competitive just about every week but still struggled to a 3-3 region record and 3-8 record overall. The wins in the region helped Carter to a surprising and hard earned playoff berth in 2002.

"This summer's work ethic will determine this year's success," said Coach Woods. Like all schools, the Green Hornets share athletes with spring sports but Carter doesn't have the numbers of players most schools in class 4A enjoy. "Those guys must get into the weight room this summer and work their tails off for us to have a chance," said the Green Hornets coach.

Adding to the difficulty this season will be the fact that Carter returns only a handful of starters off last year's team. Four are back to man the Green Hornets' nest on defense. "We should be better because it will be our second year learning my system," said Coach Woods. "We must make our opponents drive the length of the field and stop the one play touchdowns we gave up last year."

At least the defensive backfield has three experienced athletes returning. The strong safety is a stalwart in senior hitman Alvin Bailey (6'3" 205). Seniors Maurice Sims (6'0" 183) and Trevor Pickel (5'11" 178) have good size. All must play tougher run support and stick closer to receivers to defend the pass.

There is also experience at linebacker. Senior Conrad Coats (6'3" 226) is a trainwreck of a defender. Fellow senior Brady Sharp (6'0" 210) also has a nasty sting for the Green Hornets. Another starter and quality depth must be developed to join Coats and Sharp in the Green Hornets' defensive nest.

The defensive line needs work but senior Shawn Bunch (5'11" 215) is a mainstay at end. Bunch will be joined at end by junior Garrett Reynolds (6'7" 215). With that kind of size it will be difficult for opposing quarterbacks to find a lane to throw as Reynolds has a wide wingspan. Sophomore Dustin Brown (6'0" 250) will find a spot probably at defensive tackle. The Green Hornets need desperately to find some more beef inside.

The story is much the same on the offensive side of the ball as Carter has some excellent players but must find some more studs and some depth to remain competitive. Carter averaged only 9 points per contest but does have a year in Coach Wood's multiple I offensive system. The Green Hornets must find a way to cure a rash of turnovers that killed the team in 2002.

Big play man Bailey will find a spot somewhere at a skill position. Bailey has good hands and will probably line up most often at wide receiver but he will also take snaps at quarterback. The Green Hornets will have to find a way to get the ball in his hands. Sophomore Brett Stanton (6'2" 185) will in all likelihood get the nod as the starting QB. Stanton has a fine arm and has the size to find an open receiver downfield.

The top returning running back is junior Micheal Lauderdale (5'10" 157). Sophomore talent Evan Littlejohn (5'10" 150) has the speed to take the football the distance if he finds enough running room to dance away from defenders.

The offensive line is a work in progress. Seniors Chris Grubb (5'9" 227) and Sharp will find a starting position as will Reynolds. Sophomores Scott Romines (5'10" 230) and Brown must step up and get it done for Carter to have a chance.

All in all this shapes up to be a difficult season out in East Knox County at Carter. As always the Green Hornets have some quality athletes there just are not enough of them. Too many of Carter's top players must go both ways which is a huge disadvantage playing against teams that have more players. Year two of Coach Heath Woods continuing rebuilding project may be tough but the Green Hornets will still be able to sting several opponents along the way.

Pigskin Preview Prediction: 3-8

Playoff Contender: No

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