Often as a writer you find individuals that just seem to be able to give you once in a lifetime material to write. Coach Graham Clark of Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett is one of those individuals. Coach Clark has led Kingsport's Tribe for a long time and has built quite a program and reputation. One of the first comments I ever heard Coach Clark make was about former Oak Ridge running back Spencer Gulmire, he said, "Gulmire is tougher than a waffle house steak." From that point I knew Coach Clark would be the guy to interview.
Coach Clark said of college recruiting, "That's like Adonis Johnson for us. I tried to get everyone in the world to recruit Adonis and they said ‘he's not tall enough' and I said ‘do you want him to rebound or do you want him to run the ball?'." He added, "It happens so early now. They want to recruit you out of the crib."PrepTennessee.com: How did spring practice go for you guys?
Coach Clark: "About how it like it goes for everybody because most of your athletes are in a spring sport, but on the positive side we got to have our spring practice on our new turf field. That was pretty nice."PrepTennessee.com: Who stood out this spring?
Coach Clark: "Justin Sylvester had a good spring for us. He will move to wide receiver and play defensive back. Ryan Church, our center, had a good spring. James Templeton, a linebacker and tight end, and, Jordan Lawson, a linebacker and fullback, had a good spring."PrepTennessee.com: Who will be the leaders of this team in the 2008 season?
Coach Clark: "Obviously the guys we just talked about. I think Jordan Edwards is a guy that is going to be a senior that could be a leader for us. We've got one offensive lineman coming back and that's Ryan Church, so obviously he has to be a leader on the line for us. Will Bateman, he is starting for us two ways offensive tackle and defensive end. Zack Fleming should be a good leader for us."PrepTennessee.com: What are the major challenges you will face this season?
Coach Clark: "Our early season schedule is tough. Whoever wins the quarterback position will be a first year starter. We have to come up with more linemen. We lost a really good free safety who signed with Tusculum, his name was Robert Hogg, but we've got a lot of really good kids coming up this year."PrepTennessee.com: Who are some of the prospects you have that are getting some looks from colleges?
Coach Clark: "We've got some suspects right now. I don't know if we've got any prospects, but we've got some suspects. James Templeton is getting some looks, Jordan Edwards is getting some looks, and Jamie Crawford a little bit."PrepTennessee.com: What is your philosophy on offense?
Coach Clark: "My philosophy on offense is to do what our guys can do. Our philosophy for many years we were triple option. We don't get to recruit our kids, so we have to adjust to what they do well. We want to do what our guys have a capability of doing."PrepTennessee.com: What is your philosophy on defense?
Coach Clark: "We've been a 3-3 for the last four or five years and it fits our personnel better so we'll stick with that."PrepTennessee.com: What is a Friday night like in Kingsport in the fall?
Coach Clark: "I always tell folks it's a great opportunity to see close to 500 young people trying to be great. We've got 350 members in our band, 100 kids in football, and probably 20 cheerleaders and dancers. We have a very supportive community and they come out to see us play. I don't know if it's because we entertain them or just have nothing else to do, but we have a full house here most Friday nights."
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