Sparkman puts last season behind them, Edwards emerges at quarterbackPublished 7:04am Tuesday, July 30, 2013
HARVEST- The football season can’t arrive fast enough for Sparkman as the Senators try to put last year’s 1-9 season behind them.
Sparkman is far ahead of where they were a year ago when head coach Tim Gillespie took over after school ended and the team had skipped spring practice. He spent the summer playing catch up. This year he has had a full off-season of conditioning and 7-on-7 work. He also has had a year to get to know his players.
“This is really like the first year for us,” Gillespie said. “We were able to develop a depth chart and get our summer organized. We have our offense and defense implemented. We have had time to work with our coaches and I feel we have an excellent staff.”
Sparkman has excelled at the passing camps this summer. At Cullman, the Senators played into the championship round.
“We have done well with what we expected to get out of our 7-on-7 work,” Gillespie said. “We worked a lot on our defensive coverage. You can get a false sense of security in 7-on-7 games because there is no pass rush.”
Gillespie knows that his line play will determine how far the team goes this season.
“It doesn’t matter how good your skill people are if your offensive line can’t block you’re going to struggle. We weren’t very big on either side of the ball last year. It is not all about being big it’s about being big and strong and able to move and we weren’t very good at any of those,” said Gillespie.
“We feel like we’re settled in our two-deep rotation on the offensive and defensive lines.”
One position that will have a new starter is quarterback.
“We still have an open competition,” Gillespie said of the quarterback position. “We don’t have a quarterback who has won a varsity football game. We’re giving five kids a look and all of them have a chance.”
Among those five competing for playing time, sophomore Mason Edwards has emerged as the front runner based on results from summer passing tournaments.
Edwards has played quarterback for four seasons going back to SparkmanMiddle School. He hit a growth spurt after eighth grade and has added two inches to his 6-foot-2 inch frame.
“His arm strength for a freshman was good but having a year in the weight room has really helped him,” Gillespie said. “We’ve tweaked his mechanics to get the ball out more smooth and he spins the ball better than he was before.”
Edwards started for the freshman team last year and got his first taste of varsity in the spring.
“He had a tough transition with the speed of the game,” Gillespie said. “Things like reading coverages and pre-snap reads happen a lot faster and are more complex at this level than the freshman level. Then he began to understand the offense and understand concepts of what we are trying to do. He’s been able to learn and get better and that is why he is where he is now.”
Edwards is a one sport player concentrating on football. He hopes to play football in college.
“I’m just trying to compete. I know there is going to be a ton of pressure especially in the games on Friday night. Coaches tell me to have fun.”
Edwards will be looking to connect with his brother, senior receiver Devin Edwards.
“Last couple years have been kind of empty but I believe we can go far this year.”
Practice starts Monday, August 5 and Sparkman opens the season at home against Huntsville on Friday night, August 30.