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September 5, 2013
Rivers District, Class 4A, Region 4A South
After catching 15 balls a season ago, senior Bryan Mitchell (5-8, 170) has proven to be a threat at the receiver position and quite possibly their most dynamic weapon offensively. Behind him, the likes of senior Tyrell Noel (5-10, 165) and sophomore DJ Dobbins (5-11, 165) possess some promise. In the backfield, it'll be running back by-committee with senior Deandre Moore (6-1, 190) their first option with fullbacks Justin Hurst (6-0, 205) and Zach Lechthaler (5-10, 180) looming in short-yardage situations.
At tight end, senior Garrett Reese (6-2, 225) has a chance to make some noise around the red zone. Another senior, Matt Watts (6-2, 205), will have a prominent starting role either on the o-line or at tight end. Guard Josh Cooke (6-0, 235) anchors a line with plenty of seniors, including Caelen McCaffrey (6-1, 225) at tackle, Garrett Young (6-1, 280) at center and Jadon Goodman (5-10, 200) at guard.
If things work out like they hope, Grafton will have a rotation of seven individuals on the defensive line, allowing them to stay fresh. Cooke will play three-technique and junior Kevin Posey (6-0, 235) is slated to get ample time at nose guard. Reese and Watts give them two adequate defensive ends. Junior Colin Costigan and senior RJ Eddy could step right in and not miss a beat, too.
The Clippers have reasonably sound parts to work with at linebacker as well. They'll look to senior Vince Farulli (5-9, 200) to be a sparkplug there alongside Lechthaler and Hurst, likely the two guys that'll lead them in tackles this year. Goodman, Moore and senior Jackson Touchberry are there just in case someone goes down to injury or they need to shuffle a couple of players around.
The biggest worry right now is that they have a somewhat unsettled picture at quarterback and running back. If they can get some clarity at those two positions, awfully key spots on any football team, then this team should start to get the type of results they want. Losing Spearman and Santiago are undoubtedly two significant departures, but the Clippers have pretty good numbers and the bodies to be in the hunt for years to come.
"Losing those couple of guys are tough to replace, but I'll be honest with you, I was pretty encouraged with the core group of kids that were coming back and working in the weight room," McLeod stated. "We're starting to come together pretty good."
Matthew Hatfield has covered football and basketball since 2004 for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail email@example.com, and don't forget to listen to him on High School Sports Talk Saturdays at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.