Summer Preview: Fulton Falcons

With Tyrone Cobb and Chris Pitchford graduated, Dennis Rogan is primed to be the next great Fulton Falcon star. He has speed. He has great hands. He has many D1 schools clamoring for his services. But does he have any back-up?

Fulton High School

Head Coach: Buck Coatney
Mascot: Falcons
Located: Knoxville
Class/ Region: 3A, Region 2
2005 Record: 8-4, 4-2 Region

Base offense: Multiple
Base defense: 4-3

2005 Schedule:

Aug. 26 at Austin-East R L 33-36
Sep. 2 at Anderson Co. R L 26-27
Sep. 9 Alcoa L 8-46
Sep. 16 Boyd Buchanan W 43-7
Sep. 23 at Tyner Academy W 16-13
Sep. 30 at Scott R W 56-24
Oct. 7 Kingston R W 44-28
Oct. 14 at Knoxville Catholic R W 38-9
Oct. 21 at Carter W 42-0
Oct. 28 Livingston Academy R W 18-7
Nov. 4 at Seymour W 39-7
Nov. 11 at Knoxville Catholic L 20-21

2006 Schedule:

8/25 Austin East
9/1 Anderson Co.
9/8 @ Alcoa
9/15 @ Boyd Buchanan
9/22 HC Tyner
9/29 @ Scott
10/6 @ Kingston
10/13 Catholic
10/20 Carter
10/27 @ Livingston Academy

What a difference a year can make sometimes. Coming off back to back state championships in 03 and 04, everyone fully believed Buck Coatney's Falcons would make another run at Murfreesboro in 2005.

Things got off to an abyssmal start though. The Falcons lost their first three games before finally turning what could have been a championship season around at Boyd Buchanan. They would fight valiantly thru the rest of the season, but a three-peat would allude them.

So, can 2006 be a return to the greatness of 03 and 04? Coach Coatney and staff have the QB, RB and the experience on defense to do it. The schedule wont try to get in the Falcons way either, with most of marquee match-ups slated to kick off at Fulton.

How does the schedule look this year:

Wow! What a way to start a season. One could argue Fultons most important game is its first one vs. the Austin East Roadrunners. It's a game that matches the very best in KIL 3A football and there's no tellin how it will end or what the final score might be.

After the opening game madness, the Falcons will enjoy having all the upper tier competition come to them in 06. Outside of the clash with back to back 2A champion Alcoa, the Falcons wil get all the tough region games including Anderson, Catholic and Carter at home.

As mentioned in several previous preview editions, Livingston wont be the jugernaut they were in 2005, so going to LA shouldn't be as daunting as it would have been in 2005. The Falcons know how to handle Anderson and Carter as well.

This schedule favors the Falcons, in a year they have what it should take to go far into the playoffs and perhaps beyond.

Key games:

Alcoa and Catholic.

Actually, on this slate it was hard to pick just two games. The Alcoa game will let Coach Coatney know just where his team stands for the rest of the season. If the Falcons can play the Tornadoes closer than last years 46-8 embarrassment, or even manage to win, it would show the world that Fulton is in it to win it and a real force in not just 3A ball, but big time East TN football again.

The Falcons pummeled the Catholic Fightin Irish in the regular season tilt, but couldn't find the answers in the post season re-match. Catholic is hungry for this Fulton squad and you can believe Coach Pemberton and team have this game circled. Fulton has to find the swagger they had for game 1 last year, get on Catholic early and never take their foot off the accelerator.

What will be the team strengths:

The QB, the running game and defensive experience. The Falcons return rising sophomore QB Jock Stinson. Stinson went 59 of 113 (52%) for 1048 passing yards, 12 TD's and an 8-1 mark AS A FRESHMAN. Stinson could be the best QB prospect in TN by the time he's a senior and certainly the best QB to ever play at Fulton. Barring a sophomore slump, Stinson should only augment his freshman numbers in 06.

If Virginia Tech (among many others) wants you to run the ball for them, you must be doing something right. Dennis Rogan's 2112 rushing yards and 31 TD's are testament that he's arguably the best RB in East TN, if not the whole state. Look for Rogan to possibly catch more passes out of the backfield in 06, to take pressure off Stinson and the developing WR corps.

Returning a linebacking corps and defensive backfield that accounted for 301 tackles, 17 sacks, 8 interceptions and 58 tackles for loss in 05 will make any coach darn happy. The defense also held opponents to a 18.8 ppg average. The Falcons will need to replace a few players on the defensive line, but senior DT Antonio Hamilton will anchor the line and help the coaching staff coach up the new blood.

What will be the team weaknesses:

Receiving and line play. The receiving corps took a big hit graduating lightning fast Chris Pitchford, but the pantry isn't quite empty. The Falcons return rising seniors TE Jamichael Mathis and WR Dennis Freeney. Freeney had 374 yards and 3 TD's last year as a junior. Coach Coatney will be looking for help from rising juniors Ken Tyson and possibly Vic Smith to round out the rotation.

The coaching staff will be quick to tell you about Rogan, Stinson and the aforementioned experience on D, but line play might be an issue in a season that could see Rogan run wild all over TN with proper blocking. Time will tell if the new faces on both lines can gell around OL Charles Wiley-Gatewood and DT Hamilton.

Best Offensive Player:

RB Dennis Rogan

He might be Virginia Tech bound. He ran all over 3A opponents for 2112 yards. He will score a TD on you in the blink of an eye. Dennis Rogan is this teams offense for the most part. The coaching staff believes that so much they handed the ball to him 250 times in 2005. He thanked them with 31 TD's.

Best Defensive Player:

LB Brandon Winters

Winters accounted for 77 tackles, was the leading Falcon tackler, had 10 tackles for loss and caused 3 fumbles in 2005. He and Blake Gildner will anchor an experienced LB corps. Winters looks to report at 6'0" and 185 to 190 lbs, so expect for him to do further damage in 2006.

Key player to a successful season:

The offensive line. With Dennis Rogan poised to have an incredible season running the ball, this year's offensive line has to gell quickly and follow the example Charles Wiley-Gatewood puts forth for them. With a receiving corps that might need time to come together, it's imperative that QB Stinson and his line be 100% on every play for Rogan.

The season will be a success if ...

The Falcons meet Catholic in the playoffs again this year and right last years close loss. Sure beating Alcoa would be fun. Sure, there are at least 10 games to get thru, including a regular season tilt between these two titans. But most likely it'll be Catholic standing in the Falcons path to Murfreesboro again in 06. If Fulton can beat the unbeatable twice, it might mean another gold ball.

Tn Prep Sports prediction: 10-2

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