After 16 years as an assistant, Joe Bessinger gets his first shot at being a head coach, taking over the program at Stall.
2013: 1-9 overall, 0-5 in Region 8-AAA
Coach: Joe Bessinger (First season)
Returning Starters: 11 (6 offense, 5 defense)
Players to watch: OL Kenny Cummings, QB Darius McNeil, LB Chris McTeer
Bessinger was an assistant at Stall for the last four years and replaced former coach Johnny Boykin less than a month before the start of preseason practice.
He does not see his late hiring as an issue since he has a history with the current group of players.
"We do not anticipate any issues because these kids know me and I know them, and we have basically the same staff," said the coach. "I've been with this group of seniors since they were freshmen and we have a strong bond. I think we have a group with a really solid attitude. Our numbers have been great early on and I'm excited about our potential."
Bessinger says there will be very little difference in what Stall has done in recent years, especially defensively. The change may come more on offense where the new coach wants to establish a successful running game.
"We have a veteran, big offensive line and about six backs that can carry the ball so we want to establish a run game first," he said.
Anchoring that offensive line is returning senior tackles Kenny Cummings (6-3, 265) and Dakota Perritte (6-2, 235). Senior Chris Lewis (6-1, 280) is at center while senior Jacquan Harper (6-1, 280) and sophomore Patrick Burns (6-3, 295) will be the guards.
Sophomore Darius McNeil is slated to be the starting quarterback. The primary ball-carriers are seniors Francis Manigault and Casey Williams.
Cummings anchors the defensive line as well, along with returning seniors Kelton Jones and Tyrell Russ. Seniors Chris McTeer and Davon Little are veteran linebackers, while seniors Jakari Richardson and Jacqui Johnson-Drayton are the leaders in the secondary.
"We know we have a long ways to go but this group works pretty hard," said Bessinger. "I can't predict how many games we will win but I definitely think we have a competitive football team."