Jellico Blue Devils

Tucked away up north in the rugged mountain area just short of the Tennessee-Kentucky border lies the Town of Jellico. Residents love their high school football and talented Head Coach Ronnie Lasley has his Jellico Blue Devils on a roll of sorts. The Blue Devils have earned a trip to the playoffs three straight seasons and his 2003 team is primed to make another postseason run.

"We have made the playoffs but have lost in the first round each year," said Coach Lasley, who is preparing to start his fourth year at the Blue Devils' helm. "Our season will depend on how we replace three really good skill players. If we can find an answer at quarterback and a couple of other areas of need, we should be alright. We should be strong in the line and have a great future up front," continued the Coach.

This particular group is highlighted by a nasty band of defensive minded players. ""Defensively we should be much better," said Coach Lasley. "We played really strong in spring practice. I noticed since these kids were in junior varsity ball that they had a knack of flowing to the football. They like to attack and pursue."

Coach Lasley picked up his defensive strategy at Tusculum College several years ago and has incorporated and odd man defensive front whose object is to attack with lots of stunt packages to create mayhem and get to the quarterback. Jellico deploys with two rover type hybrid defenders that are part defensive back and linebacker. Senior Michael Michael (6'0" 185), also known as Michael Squared, and junior Nick Clevenshire (5'11" 185) will be the rovers. "We like to bring those guys off the corners," said Coach Lasley.

All three starters return at linebacker. The man in the middle will be senior Jason Morgan (5'8" 215) who is a headhunter. The outside backers will be senior athlete Stephen Barclay (5'10" 180) and junior Sean Anderson (6'0" 200). Senior Thomas Collins (6'2" 210) and junior Brad Marlow (5'9" 185) will get in on the fun as well at linebacker.

Jellico lines up with three and five down linemen. The noseguard will be sophomore behemoth Alvis Moore (6'3" 292) who is really hard to move according to his coach. The tackles should be junior Michael Morris (6'3" 270) and junior Ben Webb (5'11" 200). These guys are adept at clogging the line of scrimmage long enough for the pressure to come from all angles.

The defensive backfield plays conservatively in hopes that the blitz and pressure will get to the opposing quarterback before he can make the throw. Junior Taylor Mitchell (5'9" 175) will line up at corner along with sophomore Matt Hopson (5'10" 180). The safety should be senior Matt Ivey (5'8" 150). Sophomore Corey Brown (5'9" 150) will gets reps in the secondary.

Offensively, Jellico returns six starters to a unit that will change gears a bit this season. "We will be a little more traditional on offense this year," said Coach Lasley. "We will try to run to set up the pass instead of the opposite approach we have used in the past. We will use a lot of motion and roll out our quarterback in an attempt to keep pressure on defenses."

Jellico's signal caller will be Barclay, who has decent speed and was a starting wide receiver a year ago. "Barclay throws on the run really well and is the reason we will move him around the pocket," said Coach Lasley.

Barclay will enjoy his protection by the big boys up front. The offensive line is large and has potential. The center will be junior Matt Hill (6'1" 190). The guards should be Webb and Collins, although the latter will get a look at tight end as well. Marlow may find a starting spot at guard if the Collins experiment is a success. The tackles will be Morris and sophomore Blake Douglas (5'11" 225). Moore and fellow sophomore Robert "Spanky" Bridges (6'3" 305) will be in the mix at tackle.

While Collins gets a look at tight end, Anderson hopes to earn a spot at the position. If Anderson develops, Collins will assume his spot at guard where he started a year ago. Michael squared, who is a hard nosed player according to Coach Lasley, will also start at wide receiver. Ivey, Brown and Hopson will rotate at flanker as well.

The running game is key to any success Jellico enjoys offensively this season. Strongman Morgan, who benches 350 pounds, will get the nod at fullback where he is a devastating blocker. Morgan was once a starter at guard. The tailback will be either Mitchell or Clevenshire. Mitchell was particularly successful a year ago but will move to wide out if Clevenshire takes to a starring role at tailback.

Folks up in Jellico have enjoyed their team's success on the gridiron under Coach Ronnie Lasley. The schedule features Class A powers Midway, Oneida, Coalfield and Cloudland. THE game is against hated border rival Williamsburg Kentucky. "That is one of those games where if you win it doesn't matter what the overall record is," said Coach Lasley. "Those two teams simply don't like each other." There is plenty of beef up front and a fleet of spirited Blue Devils firing at the opposition on defense. If Jellico can discover a couple of "chain movers" at the skill positions, the Blue Devils just might get that elusive playoff victory in 2003! Prediction- 6-4

Playoff Contender- Yes

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