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Timberland High School
St. Stephen

Timberland boasts wealth of experience this spring

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

St. Stephen—Even during rebuilding years, the Timberland football team racks up victories and makes a deep run in the playoffs.  So with essentially its entire starting lineup returning from 2017, the Wolves have high hopes for the upcoming season.

Head coach Art Craig had approximately 75 players participate in spring practice, with 40-45 being varsity candidates.  He was pleased with the period and feels that the team has plenty to build upon.

“With nine starters back defensively, it was mostly trying to find backups and add some things.  Offensively, anytime you’re replacing your quarterback, you have to find what fits your scheme.  Another key is to find some more linemen.  We had a good spring practice.  The kids were pretty focused.  The rain wasn’t too cooperative the last week, but I thought we got a good bit accomplished,” Craig said.

The offensive line brings back four starters, including Ian Balzano, Kevin Wilson, Keon Bishop and Javar JenkinsMatthew Williamson will stay at fullback, and Josh Hill and Shemar Green are veterans at running back.  Daquan Gleason and Jaleen Richardson return at tight end and wide receiver, respectively.

“We’re going to be more athletic on the outside, and that’s something we’ve missed the last couple of years.  If we can get the ball out there to them, maybe we can get some people out the box and make it a little easier on our linemen,” Craig said.

While there are so many returning players, the biggest void is at quarterback.  Senior D.J. Gadsden and freshman Deonte Greene will battle to win the starting job, and the competition may go well into fall camp.

“The good thing is DJ has been in the system and he understands what we want to do.  Deonte has all the physical tools and he thinks he can do it.  It’s going to come down to who can put us in good situations.  The problem is that you’re not going to know some of that until you get in the fire,” Craig said.

On the defensive side, Wilson, and sophomores Jamaal McKinney and Sam Moultrie remain up front.  Williamson, Hill, Terrence Smalls, Dakari Wynn and William Chandler all have experience at linebacker, and Tyler Sumpter has drawn college interest in the secondary.  Zack Bayles returns as the placekicker.

“Hopefully we’ll be good enough defensively where we won’t give up a lot of points until we can figure out how to score,” Craig said.

Timberland will compete in a few passing leagues over the summer, but mainly want to use the next two months to prepare for its regular season opener.

“We want to get our guys in good condition.  We open week zero against Stratford and that’s a numbers game.  They’re going to dress 60 or 70 kids and very few of their kids will be going both ways.  Our kids have to show up over the summer and get in shape,” Craig said.

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