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Harlem going back to basics for the new year

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While other high schools might be in the infancy of using shotgun or pistol-type offenses, head coach Jimmie Lewis is hoping a step back will pay dividends for his Harlem Bulldogs in 2013.

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Harlem junior Hunter Rippe has been competing with Owen Price at the quarterback position.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Harlem junior Hunter Rippe has been competing with Owen Price at the quarterback position.

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In last year’s season-opener, they fumbled nine times – losing seven – including a critical one with 2:36 left in the game while leading 7-6. Georgia Military College scored the game-winner three plays later prompting Lewis to call it his most disappointing loss in a long time.

That set the stage for a 2-8 season in which they lost three games by six points or less.

“We fumbled away three games last year,” Lewis said. “Of course we were in the shotgun last year, that made a big difference. We had some fumbled snaps at the wrong time, some bad snaps and this year we’re underneath. We decided to go with just a vanilla offense, a good safe offense. Turn around and hand it to (Austin) Burt and hope Burt holds onto it.”

Lewis has liked what he’s seen heading into the season at quarterback where a starter is yet to be determined between junior Hunter Rippe and sophomore Owen Price.

“Both of them are doing real good so we’re looking forward to having two good quarterbacks,” Lewis said.

The quarterback will have talent to throw to in wide receiver Mason McDaniel and tight end Tyler Sheppard, who shined on defense a year ago.

McDaniel, a senior free safety, led Columbia County with 155 tackles, including 110 solo, and made the first team All-Region 3-AA. At defensive end, Sheppard posted 19 sacks and 125 total tackles, also earning first-team all-region honors.

“I can’t wait for the first game,” McDaniel said. “I hope I have an even better season than I did last year. As long as we don’t turn the ball over and we play good defense I think we can win some games.”

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