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Abbeville completes spring football drills with focus on summer improvement

Abbeville completes spring football drills with focus on summer improvement

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Abbeville – With less than half of his starters back from 2018 back for 2019, Abbeville head football coach Jamie Nickles says this year’s spring practice took on an added level of importance.

But, with four consecutive state AA championships and a 52-4-1 record over the last four years, it’s safe to say Nickles and his staff will find the answers they are looking for.

Abbeville completed 2019 spring drills with a spring game on May 28 and Nickles says most of the work was on developing depth at every position.

“It was more about individual work and moving some kids around to get them ready at two positions,” Nickles said. “You may take a guy that has played for two years at center and work him at guard, or maybe take some offensive guys and rep them on defense a lot. We look at every position and we try to improve our depth. This season we will have to roll more guys on both sides of the ball.”

The Panthers will have five returning starters on offense with the offensive line being very experienced overall. Back for their third year as starters up front will be Connor Nickles, DeMichael Johnson and Trai Jones. DaDa Bowie and Davis Sutherland also are returning with significant experience.

Jones, a 6-3, 270-pound tackle, is one of the state’s top linemen with early offers from the likes of Furman, Appalachian State, U-Conn and Army.

“We may have to roll some of those linemen on defense, so it is nice to have some depth,” Nickles said.

Returning at quarterback is senior JD Moore. Moore led the team in rushing last year with over 1,350 yards and 21 touchdowns. Moore added 550yards passing including 12 touchdown passes. Nickles says Moore may see some time in the defensive secondary with junior Thomas Beauford seeing significant snaps under center.

“We have a good situation at quarterback,” the coach said. “Both are good players. If we need JD on defense some we have someone who can play quarterback and be productive.”

Nickles says finding consistency at running back and receiver will be focal points in the summer and fall camp. Cruz Temple, a starter at linebacker and in the secondary on defense, is a key candidate on offense at receiver and/or running back.

Temple had around 60 tackles and five interceptions last year. Defensively, end Carson Smith and tackle Ar’darius Burton are returning starters and will be key leaders up front. Linebacker Jhalyn Shuler is another senior prospect, with early offers from Southern Miss, Wofford, East Carolina an U-conn. Shuler had 60 tackles with 12 TFL last season.

The lone returner in the secondary is senior Quadarius Guillebeaux.He had three interceptions and a team leading 10 pass break-ups last year.

Another area of strength for 2019 will be the kicking game. Senior Dylan Beauford is a fourth-year performer and one of the state’s best. He handles placekicking, punting and kickoffs.

“He’s a definite weapon for sure,” said Coach Nickles. “He has a strong leg and he’s very consistent in every phase. We need him to be big again for us this year.”

Abbeville is scheduled to open the season on August 23rd against border rival Lincoln County, Georgia. The non-region schedule includes games with Newberry, Southside Christian, Emerald and Hartsville.

Last year Abbeville’s stellar defense pitched shut-outs against Lincoln County 57-0, Newberry 49-0, Central 390 and Fox Creek 50-0. They allowed under 10 points a game while the offense was scoring just over 48 points per game.  

Between now and the season opener, Nickles says improvement will be the focus.

“We have some stuff scheduled during the summer and we will be working really hard to develop in every area of our football team,” said Nickles, who is an assistant on the 2019 Shrine Bowl game coaching staff. “It all starts before you know it, so we have to put in the work to be ready to go in August.”


© 2017 High School Sports Report

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