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Warriors present preseason puzzle for Pickens

Team short on experienced upperclassmen, long on youth with potential

News editor

Peabody-Burns football coach David Pickens wants to put a “competitive” team on the field this fall. Some fans might call that coach speak for, “The cupboard is bare.”

They would be wrong.

It’s true that just two seniors, Bryant Young and Bailey Penner, have significant experience. It’s also true that there are more sophomores on the team than from any other class.

But the cupboard definitely isn’t bare.

“We have a good group of kids, and they’ve been working pretty hard in the off-season,” Pickens said. “We’ve got to fill a lot of holes and there are going to be some young guys who are going to have to step up, but they’re talented. We are kind of lucky in the fact that we have quite a few kids that can fit different molds and things that we need.”

Few Warriors will strike fear into their opponents with their size, but size can be deceptive, Pickens said.

“The best part about eight-man football is that you don’t have to have those big, thunderous linemen,” he said. “Speed really is key. You can take a 135-pounder who knows how to use his body at the point of attack and he can be as effective as a 200-pound kid.”

Young and Penner, along with junior Tyler Enz, will be counted on as much for their football smarts as their talent.

“If you don’t have a bunch of guys who’ve been playing together for four years, you’ve got to have guys out there who are smart enough to tell guys where to be,” Pickens said. “Those guys are really going to be able to rely on Bailey, Bryant, and Tyler. They’re going to be able to tell everyone what they ought to do on every play.”

Young brings more than experience to the quarterback position, Pickens said.

“He’s got that common sense that makes him a decent athlete at anything he does,” he said. “He’s a senior and he wants to be one of the leaders on the team. He wasn’t born a great big kid, but he’s got heart. When you’ve got a kid like that, you’ve got a chance.”

Pickens expects Penner to be handling the ball at running back and tight end, while Enz will be clearing paths for him on the line.

The development of sophomores Jess Philpott and Rocco Weertz could be key pieces to having a competitive team.

“They’re both really athletic kids and they have a chance to do some really good things,” Pickens said. “Jess will be playing tailback for us this year. He’s going to give us a good shot at putting the ball in the end zone. Rocco could play running back, tight end, wide-out, and he’s one of our backup quarterbacks. But they’re still sophomores and that does make a difference.”

The Warriors open the season Sept. 1 at home against Rural Vista. Pickens said the Heat lost several seniors from the team that ran over the Warriors 58-8 last year, and he hopes home field will give Peabody-Burns an extra edge to make the game, yes, more competitive.

However the pieces fit together for Warriors, there’s one thing above all the rest that will determine how competitive the Warriors will be, Pickens said.

“The older guys are going to have to lead, they’re going to have to step up,” he said. “That’s the only way this thing is going to work.”

Last modified Aug. 30, 2017

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