Tigers go back to basics in spring training
Hoffmann pleased with Alcovy's progress so far

COVINGTON - Alcovy's football program is not in a panic mode even after losing key personnel as the Tigers enter their fourth year of football.

"We have a good nucleus coming back, but the kids we're losing are some big-time playmakers," said Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffmann.

While losing players like Malachi Outlaw and Matt Gunnells can be hard on a program, Hoffmann said that the leadership they provided has rubbed off to the upperclassmen.

Stepping up in the backfield to replace Malachi, who rushed for over 1,000 yards, are rising sophomores Devon Edwards and Tre Sorrells.

"They're both freshmen and they had great springs for us. They just kind of stepped in. There were some other kids that stepped up for us. There was Jacques Harris, he's ready to help fill in some position play," Hoffmann said. "Finally we're in a program where the senior leadership that we're graduating is starting to show on the upperclassmen."

Trying to fill the void left by Gunnells, who played inside linebacker and on the offensive line, are Jakatei Ridley and John Hale.

"Those are some kids that just stepped up," Hoffmann said. "We were able to go in the spring and really fill in those holes that Matt Gunnells and Altione Wilson and Nick Wilson had made void."

Since the Alcovy program is no longer in a phase where the coaches have to teach, they were able to work more on fundamentals.

Because they were able to focus on fundamentals, Hoffmann and his staff were able to build the team by doing more hitting, one-on-one and some group work.

Other important tasks covered by Hoffman were making sure the team had the right players in the right positions and getting physically tougher.

"Those are some areas we felt we needed to attack. When you do that, you have some injuries that come when you practice like that," Hoffmann said. "But I thought we addressed both areas and felt like we came out with some pretty good solutions.

"One of the things that hurt us defensively was that Bryan Daniel was only in for half of it because of baseball. He's basically the heart and soul of this defense. He and Rod Tolen are having to carry it on both sides," Hoffmann said. "I thought we had a good spring. The kids came out willing to work and I thought that brought the ability for us to get better as the spring went."

Another issue Hoffman had to tackle was what to do with rising senior Roderick Tolen.

Last season, Tolen played at quarterback as well as defensive back.

"Everybody that has been through here is on him right now. One coach said they want him at wideout, another says we think he can play corner. I'm no fool, the kid has got to be on the field. We're going to expect some things from him," Hoffmann said.

Alcovy has several qualified players that can take up the slack at quarterback, making Tolen even more of a threat on the offense where he can line up as a slot receiver or in the backfield.

Other players Hoffmann can put under center are rising sophomore Bowen Braswell and rising senior David Ward.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.