Wartburg Central Bulldogs

Morgan County is home to four high schools that compete vigorously with each other for athletics supremacy. One of those schools is Wartburg Central. The Bulldogs are on a definite upswing currently as they earned their way into the state playoffs last season and an 8-4 overall record.

Wartburg Central welcomes most of their best players back with high hopes of advancing even further than the second round of postseason in 2003. "This can be a great year if senior leadership comes through," said Head Coach Larry Davis, who is set to begin his 8th year as the Bulldogs leader.

The Head Coach's optimism is well founded as eight starters return to a unit that averaged almost 29 points per game a year ago. "We have experience at just about every position on offense and maybe the best quarterback in the area," said Coach Davis.

The Bulldogs deploy wide receivers all over the yard offensively to spread a defense apart then come with the option looking for mismatches. The man running the show at quarterback for Wartburg Central is senior John T. Armes (6'1" 175). Last season Armes was difficult to defend as he tallied 10 touchdowns rushing and threw 15 scoring passes. For his efforts Armes was voted All Region and All East Tennessee. His understudy will be junior Jerrell Inman (6'1" 190) who will learn and get valuable experience at quarterback this season.

Just when an opposing defense adjusts to stop the run, Wartburg Central loves to go to the air for big plays. Seniors Jake Hawn (6'0" 185) and Andrew Knight (6'2" 185) have the size and speed to get it done at wide receiver. With a strong running game and rifle armed QB, Hawn and Knight should get many opportunities to make the end of year highlight reel.

The running backs have size, experience and the ability to move the chains. Paving the way for the halfbacks will be senior fullback Ryan Gunter (5'11" 215) who can also get the tough yards inside when called upon. The halfbacks will be seniors Travis Aytes (5'11" 185) and Derrick Daugherty (6'1" 185). Gunter roared to 921 yards gained in 2002 and has averaged 11 touchdowns per season during his career.

The key to success for ground oriented Wartburg Central is the development of a mean bunch along the offensive line. The starting center is sophomore Jamie Gibson (6'2" 250). The guards should be senior Michael Wilke (6'3" 290) and sophomore Kyle Laymance (6'0" 275). Outside at tackle should be seniors John Armes (6'4" 245) and Josh Landrum (5'10" 240). For a class AA team, the Wartburg Central line will be able to match up with anybody physically. Will they play together and be nasty enough?

Defensively, the Bulldogs try to be multiple and attack according to Coach Davis. Nine starters return to a unit that allowed only 14 points per game in 2002.

The defensive line is set with all four projected starters being seniors. The tackles should be Clay Seiber (6'3" 260) and Michael Armes (6'0" 290). The ends should be John Armes and David England (6'2" 220). These guys have the size and strength to go man to man with all comers.

Two of three linebackers are new to the unit and must come through for the Bulldogs to match last season's success. The leader is senior Andrew Kittrell (6'4" 235). This guy is an incredible defender with his 4.8 40 yard dash time enabling him to race sideline to sideline to make a play. With that size and speed, Kittrell is sure to get more than a passing glance from college recruiters. Senior Ryan Hamm (5'10" 195) and junior Alex Wilson (6'0" 185) will be the other linebackers.

The defensive backfield will consist of Landrum and junior Brent Hamby (6'0" 170) at cornerback. Hawn and senior Tom Ritter (6'3" 185) will man the spots at safety.

Expectations are high at Wartburg Central this season as there is experience returning at just about every position. This will be a senior laden team that has excellent size and strength. The only question will be can this team compete with some of the speed teams in the region such as Sweetwater and Alcoa. There is no question however, that the 2003 edition of the Bulldogs will earn another trip to the postseason playoffs. How far will they go?

TNPrepSports.com Prediction- 7-3

Playoff Contender- Yes

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