Team Preview: Pigeon Forge

Coach Lee Hammonds spoke about his squad and his expectations for the 2008 season. He talked about the new attitude and work ethic the Tigers hope to show this season.

How did things go this spring for you guys?

"We had a good spring. The things we worked on this off season about being quicker and stronger we saw this spring. We've got some key positions to fill in quarterback and tailback. We scrimmaged Cocke County and we started off pretty strong. We scored on the first play of the scrimmage. It was a ten play scrimmage and we scored on the first play and held them, but we ended up tied up two to two. We didn't stay as strong as we started because we gave up two big plays on defense. We saw some good things and we saw some things we definitely have to work on."

What are the strengths of your team?

"I think the offensive line will be one of our strengths. Defensively as a team it needs to be our strength. It can definitely be our strength. We've got a nucleus coming back from last year. We've got to be able to put an emphasis on defense this year. We've got to be able to control the ball on offense and eat clock."

What are some of the areas you look to improve?

"We've got to develop our passing game. We have to be better at the quarterback position and our passing game. We've got some receivers who can catch and make things happen after they catch it. We've got to find a way to get the ball to them. We had some protection breakdowns in the Cocke County scrimmage, but we will have to work on it."

Who are some of the players you plan to rely on this season?

"We've got a pretty good senior class that has been working hard in the weight room. Jebb Lenhart, 6'4, 300 pound offensive/defensive linemen needs to be a big force upfront on both sides of the ball. Dale Ferrell is a great athlete who has one of those football mentalities that likes to hit. He is a hard nose type of kid who likes to hit and plays tight end and linebacker. Zach Stiles, we moved him to quarterback and he also plays linebacker. That is going to be tough on us. He is definitely one of our leaders on defense and he has to be the leader on offense. Anthony Nehr, an offensive/defensive lineman, is a good leader who has worked his butt off in the weight room to develop his athletic ability and strength. We've got a newcomer Tommy Todd, right now he looks like he is going to be our tailback. He is a good worker in the weight room. We've got a transfer student named Doug Walker, fullback/defensive end, a hard nose kid. He's got the strongest legs on the team and best squat on the team. Logan Smelcer, 5'8, 150 pounds is a good athlete at wide receiver/defensive back. He is really quick, fast, and has good hands."

What is your team's biggest challenge this season?

"We have to overcome the hurdle of learning how to win. Two years ago Pigeon Forge was 0 – 10 and it took a lot out of these kids. That was one of our biggest battles last year to convince them that you don't have to have all the talent in the world. You just have to outwork people and be disciplined. We need to be mentally sound, but it's easy to talk it and not so easy to walk it. We lost some close ball games last year and I think if we learn to win we can do better."

Who are some of the players receiving interest from division one schools?

"Jebb Lenhart is getting letters from Tennessee. Coach Adkins was up here at our spring practice. He is going to Middle Tennessee's camp. He is being recruited by Virginia. I've coached for fifteen years and he is as good of an offensive lineman that I've coached. He is going to have to be a dominant player on Friday nights. He's going to have to have a good senior year."

How important of a factor is your home crowd?

"They are very important. The more support we have from the community the better these kids perform. Tennessee plays better when there are a 105,000 rather than 60,000. Especially in high school because it's so emotionally charged."

What is your philosophy on both sides of the football?

"Offensively we are multiple I. We like to run the football that's our bread and butter. We like to eat the clock and control the clock. If we can go three plays and a first down that's our goal. Defensively we are going to play aggressively and physical. We want to keep it simple and put our players in the best position to make plays."

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