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June 11, 2014

PREP FOOTBALL: Smothers sees plenty of good for Bulldogs reentering Class 2A fold

CULLMAN — Things couldn’t have gone much more smoothly for Addison over the course of its spring practice schedule.

The Bulldogs escaped the two-week window injury-free, had plenty of kids stand out on both sides of the ball and claimed their jamboree with a 6-3 win over Class 6A Cullman.

All in all, David Smothers couldn’t be happier with the way things are progressing for his program as it sets to reenter a tougher 2A fray in the fall.

“I thought everything went well,” the coach said. “We got a pretty good idea about our offense and defense. With the big experience we have coming back, we were able to treat it just a little more like a fall practice in that we could dive right into some things.”

Among the returning starters are quarterbacks John Everett and Hunter Ray, as well as key contributors in Kolby Kirk, Kyle Denson, Dillon Jarrett and Ethan Downs.

Addison, which went 9-2 last season, will have to replace an excellent group of departing seniors — Frankie Melson, Kolton Denson and Kurtis Robinson — among others.

Smothers believes he has a good idea which particular kids can feel roles needed by the team in the fall.

“We got to look at a lot of kids in a lot of areas,” he said of the spring. “The group of seniors we lost was very important for us. You just don’t really know how the other guys will step up and play. Sometimes they play better when they’re the big dogs on the team.”

Smothers will need the experience of 17 returning seniors in the upcoming season ... and then some, as the Bulldogs prepare for their latest stint in 2A.

However, with the move comes a tremendous upgrade in his team’s 2014 schedule. Gone are the likes of Shades Mountain, Meek and Appalachian — squads Addison outscored 138-15 during its 2013 campaign.

In their stead are Pickens County (last year’s 1A champion), Tanner (back-to-back 2A state titles), Hanceville, Vinemont, Cold Springs and Tarrant.

While many coaches might balk at the bad change, Smothers was quick to embrace it for myriad reasons.

“The coaches, kids and community are excited about it,” the third-year coach said. “Every Friday will be its own challenge. Last season, the games were over at halftime and it was really boring, to tell the truth about it. It doesn’t help you as a team preparing for the playoffs in games like that. The people were not getting their money’s worth, either.”

Despite the loss of key players and difficulty in the schedule, Smothers and Co. are excited about the potential to build on a playoff win from last year.

According to Smothers, it’s all going to depend on if his less experienced players can catch on and his veterans on both sides of the ball can carry the Bulldogs through a tough road ahead.

“Hopefully, we can have it all come together,” Smothers said. We’ve got some good teams to play and a long way to go, but I’m excited about it.”

Addison will open its season on the road with a rematch against Pickens County before hosting Vinemont and Tanner in back-to-back weeks.

The Bulldogs’ Region 6 consists of Cold Springs, Southeastern, Falkville, Sumiton Christian, Tanner and Tarrant.

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.

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