As the rebuilding process continues with the Hurst L.D. Bell football team, underclassmen are playing larger roles.
With all gratitude to this season’s seniors, now comes the time to look to the future. And coach Mike Glaze likes what he has seen this season from his underclassmen.
“I believe there is no substitute for experience, especially with football being so situational these days,” Glaze said. “The best way to be able to handle situations is to have been through them before and learned from them.
“Hopefully those young men have tasted some success and will now be hungry for more. They will also look around the locker room when the season is over and think, ‘Well, now it is up to us to determine what we want for our season to be like next year.’ ”
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Numerous juniors and sophomores have shown the potential to move the team forward.
Junior quarterback Austin Brougham completed more than half of his passes for over 1,000 yards. And though he’s not carried much, junior running back Markel Burnett is averaging more than 4 yards per carry.
The receiving corps, like the running backs, was largely made up of seniors. However, juniors Andrew Bice, Michael Bernhardt and Austin Kirksey received valuable playing time.
The defense has a couple of juniors who put up impressive numbers. Outside linebacker Nate Alexander averaged over a dozen tackles per game, with an average of seven being solo. Also, Michael Dyson averaged over three tackles, with more than half being solo.
“We are really excited about those two guys. We watched Dyson on the JV last year and knew that he had a chance to be a great player, and Nate will be a three-year varsity starter,” Glaze said. “They will be the leaders of the defense next year and should set the tone for the other defensive players moving up.”
Speaking of players moving up, Glaze is excited about several underclassmen on his junior varsity. They finished 7-3, with the losses coming by a combined 21 points.
“There will have to be several contributors moving up, especially on the D-line, secondary and running back positions,” he said. “That team has learned how to win this past season and will hopefully move up to the next level expecting to win.”
Three punters are also underclassmen: Brougham along with sophomores Cole Atkins and Juan Rodriguez. Likewise, three placekickers are also underclassmen with Rodriguez, junior Edwin Hernandez and sophomore Aaron Dozier.
“I like where we are right now in our program,” Glaze said. “We have shown improvements at our freshman, JV and varsity level, and I really believe we would be fighting for a playoff spot if not for injuries during the season. We are going to miss this year’s seniors, but we are excited about the future of Blue Raider football.”