Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
Tanner High's Jarquise Peoples, right, holds back Dustin Williams on a punt return in practice Tuesday.
HIGH SCHOOL COUNTDOWN
Tanner confident players will step up to carry the torch
Second in a series.
By Mark Edwards
email@example.com · 340-2461
TANNER — Graduation hit hard for the Tanner High offense.
All-area quarterback Demarcus King? Gone.
All-area receiver Rod Byrd? Gone. All-area offensive tackle Matt Smith? Gone. All-area running back Tim Mason? Gone.
With their help, Tanner rolled to a 10-2 record last year, scored 28 or more points in seven of 10 regular-season games, reached the second round of the state playoffs and averaged more than 226 rushing yards in the last half of the regular season.
But then again, this is Tanner.
The Rattlers have won 37 games in head coach Laron White's four seasons on the job, and there's confidence among his players that the ride won't stop.
"Actually, I expect our offense to be much better," senior running back Jarquise Peoples said.
"We have key players back, and we feel we're working well as a group. If we're not better than last year, we can be as good."
A few moments with White reveals that Peoples isn't overstating his team's offense.
First, Peoples himself lends some firepower to the offense. He rushed for 1,060 yards last season and a team-high 15 touchdowns. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, he appears to have added some upper-body muscle from a year ago.
Senior Josh Byrd will take over for the graduated Kenny James. Byrd started at guard last season.
Juniors Nick Wilson and Michael Rice will man the guard spots.
Wilson started last year, and Rice was a part-time starter slowed by injuries. Junior Amos Draper and sophomore Zach Draper will start at tackle, and both started every game on the line last season.
Senior tight end Keith Shoulders, a starter since his freshman season, is back, and White said he can go inside to block as well as split outside to catch passes.
The quarterback, sophomore Dominique Randolph, is young, but White said he has learned a lot in the off-season.
So even with the graduation losses, White is hoping to have a strong running game as usual.
"I like having a good mix," White said.
"I like to be good in both. But you win games by establishing the run."
Like many area teams, most of the Tanner players spent the summer working out in the school weight room, and
they did so with a sense of urgency to maintain a solid offense and the school's trend of winning.
Tanner hasn't had a losing record since 2001. That also is the last time the Rattlers failed to make the playoffs.
"The tradition here is what pumps us up and gets us going," Peoples said. Then with a smile, he added, "We don't want to be the ones who lose and don't keep up the tradition."
White said he has seen a sense of dedication toward winning, no matter who's gone from last year.
"They're not scared of expectations," he said.
"They're used to winning. They love for expectations to be high. They think of high expectations as a positive."
Tanner at a glance
Last year: 10-2. Made it to the second round of the state playoffs.
Head coach: Laron White (37-11 in four seasons at Tanner).
Noteworthy: The Rattlers have finished first or second in their region in each of White’s four years as head coach. ... One of Tanner’s most exciting matchups in recent seasons has been with East Limestone. Tanner has won the last two games by one point each, and the two teams play at Tanner on Sept. 27. ... Amos Draper, a junior who starts on the offensive and defensive lines, showed last season he can handle the ball, too. He scored twice on fumble returns.
- Mark Edwards
Tanner High schedule, results
8-30 at Clements
9-7 West Morgan (R)
9-14 at Red Bay (R)
9-21 at Phil Campbell (R)
9-27 East Limestone
10-5 Addison (R)
10-12 at Hatton (R)
10-19 Winston County (R)
10-26 at Cherokee (R)
(R)-Class 2A, Region 8
vs. Clements W, 28-6
at West Morgan W, 28-21
vs. Red Bay W, 34-9
vs. Phil Campbell W, 40-23
at East Limestone W, 28-27
at Addison L, 28-17
vs. Hatton W, 19-7
at Winston County W, 39-12
vs. Cherokee W, 42-7
at Elkmont W, 20-10
vs. WestbrookChr. W, 24-13
at Lineville L, 26-7
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!