Preview Details Specific Players and Coaches

By: Daniel Simmons

In part 1 of our season preview, we looked at the team and the season from a very general perspective. In this part, we will take a more detailed look at the specific players and coaches.

The Tigers will have a new starting quarterback this season, as last year’s signal-caller Malachi Jackson graduated. “We’ll miss him, without a doubt,” said head coach Jay Watson. “He made so many long runs and game-changing plays for us. He converted a bunch of big 3rd and long plays. But we return a lot of talented offensive players from last year that I think will help us replace his big-play ability.” One of those players, junior Damascus “Tank” Lewis, will start at quarterback this year after being a wingback and slot receiver last year. “With a new quarterback, the first few weeks of practice before the games will be big, very important practice reps,” said Watson.

The Tigers will run a similar offensive scheme as they did last season, run-heavy but still flexible. A fullback will usually line up directly behind the quarterback, and that fullback will be senior Jaylen Givens. They will also have two wingbacks, who can also line up at wide receiver in the slot. At left wing is junior Jaylen Jackson, while the right wing will be a combination of Josh Hayes and Malachi Williams. Replacing the size and athleticism of graduated senior Jake Norsworthy at tight end/split end will be senior Ryan Davis, who has similar height and speed to the player he is replacing. Senior Jake Jones is back this year after missing all of last season with a torn ACL, and he will play the other tight end spot. The offensive line was very senior-heavy last season, so it is more of a question mark at the moment than the offensive skill positions. After senior offensive tackle Eli Little was lost for the season recently due to a major leg injury that required surgery, it is even more of a question mark. Calling the offensive plays will be new offensive coordinator Damion Herron, an experienced offensive coordinator who was most recently a coach at Ruston Junior High. Eric Jones and Brian Glenn will coach the offensive line.

Just like with the offense, the line is the biggest unknown on defense, and the strength of the unit is elsewhere, and in this case it would be the linebackers and secondary. “I have faith in our back seven on defense,” said Coach Watson. “I think that they got some very valuable reps this summer in our 7-on-7s. I would say that 7-on-7 time is even more important for your defense than it is for the offense. It’s really important learning time for them, learning all of the coverages and everything.” It is unclear who exactly will start on defense, but it is known that Micah Chesney will be the defensive coordinator. A defensive assistant on last season’s team, this will be Chesney’s first season to call defensive plays, and the biggest opportunity of his young coaching career. Head basketball coach and former Tiger quarterback John C. Jones will coach the secondary, as well as the backs on offense. On special teams, freshman Angel Lindsey is expected to be the placekicker, while previously mentioned tight end/split end Ryan Davis will also come in and be the punter when it’s time to punt.

Once again, the Tigers will take part in a three-way scrimmage with Grant and St. Mary’s on Aug. 18, and the jamboree at West Ouachita is Aug. 25. The Tigers will kick off the regular season on Sep. 1 at Pineville.