Holly Pond

Holly Pond.

Chris Moss is right back where he wants to be.

After a break from the game, Moss was hired back in January to take over Holly Pond's football program following the departure of longtime coach Mike Bates.

Moss coached at Good Hope from 2005-14, accumulating a 48-58 record during that stretch while guiding the Raiders to five playoff appearances and a region championship.

To say he's happy to return to the sideline is an understatement.

"It's good to be back out here," Moss said. "Being around these guys ... they all work hard, and I hope we can have an influence on their lives. I know everything is up in the air, but their expectations are to play. I hope and pray every day that these kids can play. I enjoy working with them. I enjoy what I do. But it's all about them."

The Broncos won 21 games and reached the playoffs three times during Bates' final four seasons.

Moss is hoping to have similar success, but there are challenges that await entering the 2020 campaign.

Holly Pond is coming off a 2-8 season and won't have the roster size of a traditional Class 3A school.

Add that to the obstacles posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, and it's been a busy — and different — offseason.

"That's all a concern," Moss said. "Because of our numbers, we've got to be in shape. We've got to do things during practice at a high level. I told some of them they'll never come off the field. As far as COVID goes, that's going to be an issue, because we've never dealt with that before. All the coaches around the state, though, will do what's necessary to keep our kids safe. We try our best to get our kids in the safest environment, COVID or not. That's something we've always done."


Offense

The Broncos must fill a glaring hole on the offensive side of the ball.

Kyler Chaney, the reigning All-County Overall MVP, is gone following three superb years as Holly Pond's starting quarterback.

"Anytime you lose someone like that, it's tough to replace him, and it might be hard to replicate," Moss said. "They ran the offense he was suited for. We're doing something a little different offensively as to not put as much pressure on the quarterback."

Landon Perkins and Austin Marsh are expected to compete for playing time under center.

Levi Boatright returns at running back and spearheads a backfield that also includes Anthony Knopp, Gunner Creel and Zac White.

Lane Tipton and Brayden Cason (wide receiver), and Jayden Perkins and Christian Couch (tight end) will be involved in the offense as well.

Gavin Phillips, Brandon Holmes, Jacob Persall, Jacob Holderfield and Tyler Suryono — all seniors — form an experienced offensive line for the Broncos.

Moss hopes — in addition to replacing Chaney's production — the offense continues to make improvements.

"We want to get better every day, starting with practice," he said. "As games progress, we want to get better and stress the importance of us getting better. I'm an effort guy. If they give me effort, I can't ask for much more out of them. If we do that, I think good things will come."


Defense

Phillips, Holmes, Persall, Couch and Perkins will form the Broncos' defensive line.

Boatright, meanwhile, will be joined by Suryono and Holderfield at linebacker.

Perkins, Knopp and Marsh are names to watch in the secondary.

After allowing just 18.6 points per contest in 2018, Holly Pond dipped to 34.6 last season.

Moss said he planned to simplify things on that side of the ball this fall.

"I just want everyone to get around the football and communicate," he said. "We don't make it too complicated. We want them to not think too much and just be physical."


Special Teams

Boatright will handle all kicking and punting duties for Holly Pond this season.

As for kick and punt returners?

Moss said those spots are still up in the air.


Outlook

Holly Pond is looking to make a splash in Year 1 under Moss.

To accomplish that goal, the Broncos must navigate a new and competitive Region 6 that includes Carbon Hill, Oakman, J.B. Pennington, Susan Moore, Tarrant, Vinemont and Winfield.

And while his team likely won't have the roster size of those programs, Moss is nonetheless optimistic his guys will be ready for whatever challenges the 2020 campaign brings.

"Winfield is always strong. Pennington is always strong. It's going to be a tough region," Moss said. "Our goal is to win the first one. Our goal is to win that first game. We'll take it a week at a time and see what happens."

Moss added he was happy to see the season start on time and hoped his team would get to see it play out.

"The No. 1 thing is going to be the safety of the kids," he said. "I don't want anyone affected by this virus. And I want the kids to be injury-free. I think we need to play football at all levels. I think it will bring us back to some sense of normalcy. Hopefully this thing will have a good ending."

Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 236 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.​

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