Tigers need young player to mature for successful season

COVINGTON — Alcovy’s football team is going to have to find a way to quickly gain experience with a mainly inexperienced group if they hope to make it to the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

The Tigers, who finished with an overall record of 7-4 and 4-2 Region 2-AAAAAA last year, only have seven returning starters with a senior class of 10 players.

“We’re going to be very inexperienced. That’s why it’s so important that in these non-region games we go in there each week and keep getting better,” Alcovy ninth-year head coach Kirk Hoffman said. “We’re going to have to get better every week. That’s our goal now.”

One of the main components from last year’s team, D’Anthony Bell, is coming back for his senior year. Bell did a little bit of everything for the Tigers last season playing in the secondary on defense, a slot receiver on offense and the punt returner on special teams.

“He was our big-time utility man playing him wherever we felt we needed to,” Hoffman said. “He’s going to have to lead us. He has been a joy in the offseason. He’s gotten bigger and stronger which really impressed me coming back from that knee surgery as a 10th grader. Through his work ethic he’s turned himself into a good football player and a good leader.

“Our biggest thing is trying to find some depth. But that’s why we spent spring practice and the first two weeks of the season making sure we have the kids in the right position to create some depth.”

The one position where the Tigers have depth is at quarterback. Starting for Alcovy is junior Bubba Hickson with sophomore Cameron Schadl learning the position but still capable of moving the ball.

The Tigers open their season on Aug. 29 against county-rival Eastside before hosting Baldwin. From there they will go on a four-game road trip play Pebblebrook (Sept. 12), Tift County (Sept. 19) and Lamar (Sept. 26) before starting region play against Lakeside, DeKalb on Oct. 3.

“We wanted to pick up some of the competition so we got Tift County. Being from Region 1 we know they’re going to be very good. Baldwin athletically can play with anybody and then Lamar was in the state finals,” Hoffman said. “When you look at the schedule hopefully it will prepare us for the end of the season where we’ll be a pretty good football team.”

The Tigers return to Sharp to play county-rival Newton in an important region game on Oct. 10 before hitting the road for the final time on Oct. 24 to face Tucker. They close out region play at home hosting Rockdale (Oct. 31) and Lovejoy (Nov. 8).

While wanting to host another playoff game, Hoffman knows that it will be more difficult with the addition of Tucker and the always powerful Lovejoy in a six-team region.

“We’re in a very competitive region. We have Tucker, Lovejoy, Rockdale is getting better every year and Newton’s gotten better every year,” Hoffman said.

“Every (region) game counts. If you slip up and lose to somebody it can kick you into a tiebreaker. When you get into a tiebreaker it’s kind of out of your control. Realistically, you could have a three-way tie for third and not get in (playoffs) just on a tiebreaker.”