With 190 players in his football program, Byron Nelson head coach Brian Polk likes the direction that the program is headed.
After finishing the spring season with the spring game on May 23, this is the time for Polk and his staff to assess where they are and how they deal with players who will not be available in 2014.
The most pressing is along the defensive line and offensive line. Senior defensive end Kyle Griffith will miss the season because of a torn ACL. That hurts, because he started in 2013 and gave the team quality work up front.
Offensive lineman Hayden Hawkins’ status is uncertain after he suffered knee injury. He would figure into the rotation. His loss would be devastating to a group that’s already thin on depth and lacking experience. These injuries occurred right at the end of spring football or during the spring game.
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“Kyle was just a great high school football player and did so many good things for us and the program,” Polk said. “We’re really going to miss him because he would have been one of the guys that we would have leaned on for the defense.”
If there is any good news coming from these injuries, Polk and his staff had a chance to evaluate some other players to see who could fill in. That way they would know how to handle the rotation once fall camp begins in August.
Haire slowed by injury
Junior starting quarterback Preston Haire didn’t go at full speed for most of the spring as well as in the spring game because of right groin injury.
Haire was nearly at full speed for the spring game. However, quarterbacks usually aren’t allowed to be touched. Most of the plays run kept Haire in the pocket. There was no reason to take any chances. If this was the regular season, Haire probably could have played in a game, but would have been limited by what he could do in the pocket, Polk said.
“Really, we would have been limited with what we could have done with him, but this is the spring so we can be more cautious,” Polk said. “For us, we know what Preston can do running the offense. It’s just his leadership that we needed to see grow. And it’s getting there.”
Finding RB depth
The starter isn’t the issue at running back. The job belongs to 1,081-yard rusher Courtney Miles. What Nelson needs is quality backups. When the spring ended, there will be young options between juniors Trey Cox (5-5, 160), Gabe Luna (5-8, 160) and Amani Kaega (6-1, 195). Kaega may also split time at defensive end.
“The thing is that each of them brings something to the offense and will help Courtney when he needs a spell,” Polk said. “Trey is really strong. Gabe is pretty quick. Amani is a just a great athlete.”
It looks like the place-kicking duties will go to junior Mason Shank. Although there was no rush on the field goal attempts, Shank converted efforts of 45, 47 and 49 yards.