East­side de­fense poised for a big year in 2011

Rams, Ea­gles in need of new quar­ter­backs en­ter­ing spring

The Covington News - - Sports - Josh Briggs Sports Edi­tor

If you thought East­side's de­fense was good this year, wait un­til 2011.

East­side's Shaquille Huff and Shel­don Rank­ins re­turn next sea­son to form per­haps the best de­fen­sive tackle-de­fen­sive end com­bi­na­tion in the state. Both play­ers are be­ing re­cruited by ma­jor Di­vi­sion 1 col­leges and both were se­lected to the Ge­or­gia High School As­so­ci­a­tion Ju­nior All-Star game.

Huff and Rank­ins aren't un­known com­modi­ties. They've been on the radar since their sopho­more sea­sons. But ex­pect a big year out of each again in 2011. They will an­chor East­side's de­fense that only loses two starters, Ke­vis Bell and Jer­rell Crow­der. While those two losses will be felt, Rank­ins and Huff can make up for it with the im­mense pres­sure both are ex­pected to put on quar­ter­backs and in back­fields.

East­side's de­fense reg­is­tered a ridicu­lous 107.5 tack­les for a loss and 39 sacks. Rank­ins and Huff ac­counted for 29 and 20 of those, each re­spec­tively. The tan­dem com­ple­ments each other well. Rank­ins is the speed rusher off the edge while Huff is the run stop­per up the mid­dle. Huff in par­tic­u­lar is able to ab­sorb dou­ble teams and still ef­fec­tively clog up the mid­dle. That is what makes him s at­trac­tive to col­lege scouts. At 6 foot 2 and 285 pounds, Huff has tremen­dous speed and foot­work. Look for East­side to uti­lize the two on the strong side, which will al­low the likes of lead­ing tack­ler, linebacker Blake Rouse to make plays at the line.

Rouse, is a guy who's flown un­der the radar, but he's a po­ten­tial big-time player who will be in­stru­men­tal in East­side's de­fense again next year. He led the county in tack­les with 116 and forced three fum­bles while reg­is­ter­ing an in­ter­cep­tion. Rouse has good speed to go along with a tall frame. He could play linebacker or strong safety but is best served as a linebacker in East­side's 3-5 de­fense.

Al­covy's Cor­nell White showed tremen­dous po­ten­tial in 2010 de­spite the Tigers' of­fen­sive strug­gles. He re­placed Bowen Braswell at quar­ter­back early in the sys­tem and turned out to be Al­covy's sec­ond best of­fen­sive threat be­hind Tre Sor­rells. Only a sopho­more, White will get a full spring and sum­mer of pass­ing leagues to re­fines his skills. He's al­ready a hard run­ner who picks up tough yards. In 2010 he showed the abil­ity to throw a nice ball. He'll be put into the sys­tem full time and should flour­ish.

The quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion at the other two schools is up in the air. With Califf Carnes

and Tyree Wil­liams grad­u­at­ing from East­side and Newton re­spec­tively, there will be open com­pe­ti­tion at each school.

East­side will most likely look to ei­ther ris­ing ju­nior Cameron Boyd or fresh­man sen­sa­tion De­mario Ter­rell to take over af­ter Carnes was the starter the past two sea­sons. Boyd is the more pro­to­typ­i­cal drop-back quar­ter­back and is about the same size as Carnes was. His arm strength would need to greatly im- prove as would his com­mand of the hud­dle said East­side coach Rick Hurst. But he was the backup in 2010 and saw time in three games — start­ing one, and has play­off ex­pe­ri­ence when he was called into duty in the sec­ond half of East­side's sec­ond-round loss to Cairo. Ter­rell is moiré ath­letic and coaches rave about his arm strength de­spite his smaller frame. He played well as a fresh­man for East­side out­side of var­sity play but doesn't have ex­pe­ri­ence at the top level. He can run the ball well and gives the of­fense more flex­i­bil­ity. Ac­cord­ing to Hurst both quar­ter­backs will be given equal op­por­tu­nity to win the job dur­ing the spring and sum­mer.

At Newton, things are a bit more murky. Zach Sul­li­van is an op­tion but head coach Cortez Allen hasn't re­ally com­mit­ted to any­one yet. Sul­li­van was on the depth chart be­hind Wil­liams for the Rams in 2010 but never had to see any time. He's big and has a de­cent arm and would give the Rams two years of ser­vice as he's just a sopho­more. Newton will look at all its op­tions dur­ing the spring and sum­mer and the Rams have other ar­eas of con­cern too like run­ning back and re­ceiver where the other two schools are in bet­ter shape.

An­thony Banks/The Cov­ing­ton News

Wheels to thrill: Al­covy's Cordell White broke out in 2010 and has two more years to get even bet­ter.

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