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Braves hope to reload during spring practice

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By Ryan Naus

After losing 12 seniors, the Grant County High School football team will rely on a new crop of athletes as they hope to continue their winning ways.

The 2009 season got underway March 9 as the Braves started their spring practice and ended on March 27. Now, the players are preparing for a month of the team’s weight training and running program.

“I saw that we had several players who showed some promise as far as having the ability to develop,” coach Mike Davis said. “We still have a lot of holes to fill, but we have a good idea of where we’re going.”

“With all the young guys that are coming in, we need to stay focused,” Randy Salyers, next year’s starting quarterback, said. “Now, it’s all on us as seniors to lead.”

Salyers, Justin Loomis and Tyler Sheffield are three returning starters that will help the team transition from experience to youth. Davis believes that his upperclassmen will set the example for the younger players.

“We have a young team and we did a lot of installing the offense and the defense,” Sheffield said. “It’s going to be tough to fit in last year’s seniors shoes because they were a great class of athletes, but I think we can do our jobs.”

“I think we got a lot of learning done,” Davis said. “The big thing this team is going to have is heart. We know we’re not as big or as strong as everybody. We’re going to be young each week, but I know that I have a bunch of fighters that will lay it on the line.”

Even though they are positive coming out of spring practice, the Braves know they have areas they will need to improve, especially experience-wise.

“We have to understand what we want to do on offense and defense,” Davis said. “We have to take it one game at a time. We know exactly how many days we have until we start the season with Owen County on Aug. 29. Our work is cut out for us, but I feel pretty good after coming out of spring ball.

Robbie Kohler and Adam Keller will catch the ball for the Braves next season, along with Aaron Ware. Ethan McGee, Ben Mansfield, Josh Brewer and Josh Mason are players that Davis believes will need to come in and replace the departed starters on the offensive line. Brandon Epperson is the lone returning offensive lineman.

“We have a great group of freshman coming in this year, some that have the possibility of playing on Friday nights. We have a tradition coming from the high school and the middle school level. I don’t want to call it a rebuilding year. I’d rather call it a reloading year,” Davis said.