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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Youthful Eagles ready for 2010 season

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grant Zimmerman looks down field during a recent South Putnam practice. [Order this photo]
GREENCASTLE -- For Troy Burgess' South Putnam Eagles football squad, the end of last season was a tough one. The Eagles fell to Monrovia 6-3, closing the career of a core group of seniors.

In 2010, the youth bug has bitten the Eagles, but according to Burgess, that's not something to be concerned about. He knows they might take their lumps early, but when the tournament rolls around, he expects them to be ready to roll.

"They're a good group of players," Burgess said. "The thing is if they weren't, we wouldn't be playing them. We've got some older kids, but we're young. With a freshman and two sophomores on our offensive line -- it is fun to watch them grow, watch them develop -- sometimes it's frustrating. I got spoiled when you have the same offensive line for two or three years in a row.

"We are young, but the physical tools are there," he continued. "The kids are strong, they're fast, and they're athletic. It's all mental right now and that's OK, we'll get that fixed and I think each week, you'll see us progress each week and get a little better, a little better. Ideally what you're playing for is the tournament. Ideally, we get nine weeks under our belt and by tournament time, they're not young anymore. They're seasoned veterans and they should be ready to go."

Getting the call under center for South Putnam will be Grant Zimmerman. Zimmerman got a lot of experience last season as their play caller and will be No. 1 on the depth chart this season.

It's in the backup position where the question remains. Burgess has a No. 2, but that will take away a receiving threat. He also has three underclassmen waiting to prove themselves.

"Grant's our No. 1 quarterback," he said. "That's probably where we have the least amount of depth because we go from Grant and then we drop down to a sophomore and two freshmen. Probably in an emergency situation, Rob Gibson would be our No. 2 quarterback."

It was no secret last season when you played the Eagles; they were going to run the ball straight at you with the powerful legs of Drew Cash. With Cash graduated, Burgess was asked whether the team would look to go a different route or stay the course. For Burgess, it's all about identity.

"I think we're going to have to vary things a little bit," Burgess said. "We don't want to change who we are. We're still a running football team. We're still going to line up in the power and try to run the football. But I do think we have a lot of weapons on the edges. We've got a very athletic quarterback, so there are some things we can do and we played with it a little last year.

"In the middle of the season we went to some of the spread stuff and the five-wide. Once we moved Grant into that quarterback spot, we did a little bit of that mid-season," he added.

Burgess said they used the spread last season because he knew they would need to use it this season, but again reiterated the Eagles are a running team.

"Again, we're not going to change who we are. We're a power running football team and we pride ourselves on our run game and pride ourselves on our defense and those are two things, regardless of our personnel, we want to continue to hang our hat on," Burgess said.

While some questions might remain on the offensive side of the ball, South Putnam's defense is returning seven starters and has looked good so far in practice.

"Defensively, we're in a little better shape because we've got more guys returning," he said. "We've got seven starters back on defense, so the defense is a little further ahead than the offense right now because we do have some many guys who played last year. Even the guys that are stepping in and filling spots, that weren't starters, were No. 2s last year and got some playing time.

"So defensively right now I feel good about what we're doing. We're athletic. We seem to have pretty good speed, a little better speed maybe than last year," Burgess added.

The one aspect of the defense that will look the most different will be straight up the middle. The team lost a core of seniors, Adam Masters, Derek Dean and John Spencer -- a hole Burgess pointed out is hard to fill.

"We had three seniors right up that 50 defense and it's hard to replace those guys, but I feel good about what we're getting done defensively right now," he said.

Burgess stated his seniors are going to provide some key guidance for the team in the 2010 season.

"We've got good senior leaders, that's the positive of having a good senior class last year, this year's seniors were kind of able to see how to lead and that's important," Burgess said.