Spartans plan to air it out

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When Glenn Hills' Ernest Tolbert was promoted to head coach before the 2006 season, he had an extensive rsum.

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The Spartans are led on defense by junior defensive end Jerico Brown, who was all-state in Class AAA last year with 10 sacks.  Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
The Spartans are led on defense by junior defensive end Jerico Brown, who was all-state in Class AAA last year with 10 sacks.

He was an assistant with the Spartans for 14 years, but he also had experience coaching at Richmond Academy and at several area middle schools.

It was one of those experiences while coaching at Murphey Middle School in 1992, that provided Tolbert with an offensive strategy that might cure the offensive inconsistency Glenn Hills experienced last season.

"Coaching back in the day, with the likes of Deon Grant and the Tolbert boys, I coached over half of that '96 state championship team at Josey while they were in middle school," Tolbert said. "I set the team up then on the same philosophy I'll use this season. We threw the ball until we got enough scores, and then we ran the ball down their throats."

That philosophy is counter to conventional wisdom, as many high school teams use the run to set up the pass.

This Spartans squad will have trouble finding success the traditional ways, as the roster is young and particularly thin at running back.

That's no problem for Tolbert, though, because he's got a leader at quarterback in Mike Evans. He'll guide a group of 15 Glenn Hills seniors, along with several talented receivers.

"We've got two or three JV guys we'll have to use at running back. We might even have to put some receivers back there," Tolbert said. "We have go-to receivers: Christian Walker, who's a senior, Kevin Davenport, a junior, Darquan Spratley, a senior tight end, and some young guys coming up."

Evans hasn't shied away from his expanded role this season.

"I've been a quarterback since I was 7-years-old, so I've always felt like a leader," Evans said. "I've been waiting to have a passing offense since I got here. We've got outside speed, but we also have some possession receivers. It's a good mix.

"This is probably the most talented team I've ever been around."

Another prospective thin spot for the Spartans is on offensive line. But a large addition should help up front. Victor Moli is a 6-foot-2, 265-pound newcomer who has already shown blocking ability the coaching staff didn't expect from a first-year varsity player.

The defense will use the same hard-hitting style that led to three shutouts last season.

Keying the defense is junior Jerico Brown, who was all-state in Class AAA last season after notching 10 sacks for the second season in a row.

"It's pretty rare to see a guy that young rack up those stats. But when you see his maturity, his fervor and just the way he plays, you can see why," Tolbert said.

If Brown is the flash off the outside, linebackers Lonnie Moore and Maurice Goodwin are the guys who control the interior.

"Those guys don't rah-rah, but they lead by example. They'll bust you in the mouth," said Tolbert, who will be disappointed if the team doesn't go at least 8-2.

Reach Justin Williams at justin.williams@augustachronicle.com.



GLENN HILLS SPARTANS

HEAD COACH: Ernest Tolbert (second year, 5-5)

CLASSIFICATION: Georgia High School Association Region 3B-AAA

2006 RECORD: 5-5

FOUR-YEAR RECORD: 23-18

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2004

LAST REGION TITLE: 1986

LAST STATE TITLE: N/A

RETURNING STARTERS: 6 offense, 6 defense

KEY CHRONICLERS: Senior QB Mike Evans (6-2, 175), Junior LB Lonnie Moore (6-1, 235), Junior DE Jerico Brown (6-2, 245), Sophomore FS Terrell Fitts (6-3, 215), Junior WR Kevin Davenport (6-1, 178)

OFFENSIVE ATTACK: The Spartans run a spread offense to spread the defense a little farther apart. They will be focusing their offensive attack around the passing game, with senior quarterback Mike Evans taking a strong leadership position on the field this season. The passing game will set up the running game, mostly because the Spartans are thin at the running back position. Evans will look to get the ball to wideouts Kevin Davenport and Christian Walker, along with several underclassmen moving up from the junior varsity side.

DEFENSIVE ATTACK: Two words: Jerico Brown. The junior was all-state last season in Class AAA at the defensive end position. The Spartans have counted on him for about a sack per game, as Brown finished with 10 sacks each of the past two seasons. Brown keys a 4-3 defense that prides itself on getting after the skill players, making big plays and getting turnovers.

THIN AT: Offensive line, running back and special teams.

BIG GAME: After a 63-0 thrashing at the hands of Thomson in 2005, the Spartans played the Bulldogs tough last season but still came away with a 10-0 defeat. This year, they get the Bulldogs at home Oct. 19. Other games to watch will be Sept. 28, when the Spartans travel to Burke County to take on the Bears and their new coach, Eric Parker, and Nov. 2, when the Spartans travel to face the defending region champions, Washington County. And, oh yeah, there's always the big-time rivalry game, when Glenn Hills welcomes Josey for its home opener Sept. 14.

DIFFERENT THIS YEAR: Coach Ernest Tolbert detailed several differences from last year to this year, and they were all positives. Evans as the signal caller leaders a group of 15 seniors, who should provide plenty of leadership this season. Another difference is attitude, a characteristic that's hard to measure but is one that Tolbert insisted was a definite bright spot. He said the Spartans averaged 50 players during summer workouts, and that that upgrade in work ethic has given the team a whole new swagger.

COULD GO BAD IF: The thin offensive line and running back positions implode an otherwise solid offense. There's no doubt that the passing game has the potential to carry this team, but only if Evans has the opportunity and the time to get the ball to the receivers.

GREAT YEAR IF: Brown steps up to another level and gets inside the head of every quarterback the Spartans face. The junior year is often a time when players mature and start to come into their own. And if that's the case here, who knows what kind of numbers Brown could put up; it would be hard to improve on 20 sacks in two years. If the defense plays well and creates turnovers, it should help the offense get its rhythm early in the season and carry it through the schedule


2007 Prediction: 6-4: No playoff berth

Date Opponent (2006 record) 2006 result
Aug. 31. at Greene County (9-3) Lost, 30-0
Sept. 7 at Hephzibah (1-9) Won, 27-0
Sept. 14 Josey (3-7) Won, 21-13
Sept. 28 at Burke County (6-4) Lost, 14-6
Oct. 5 at Liberty County (7-3) Won, 35-27
Oct. 12 Harlem (4-6) Lost, 22-14
Oct. 19 Thomson (9-2) Lost, 10-0
Oct. 26 at Cross Creek (4-6) Won, 6-0
Nov. 2 at Washington County (11-3) Lost, 43-6
Nov. 9 Butler (0-10) Won, 41-0

All games begin at 7:30 p.m.


PREP PREVIEW


The Augusta Chronicle will preview the following Georgia football teams heading into the start of the season:


Monday: Evans, Greenbrier


Tuesday: Richmond Academy, Westside


Today: Glenn Hills, Thomson


Thursday: Lincoln County, Warren County


Friday: Burke County, Laney

Comments (7) Add comment
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dnbaowpd
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dnbaowpd 08/29/07 - 12:09 pm
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The Glenn Hills Spartans ARE

The Glenn Hills Spartans ARE heading to the play-offs this year. As Mike Evans said this is the best squad of hard working young men that I have seen. They have a back field of play makers of which a sophmore by the name of Fitts has joined and speed out of this world with the likes of Bing and others. And the JV's that have joined the varisity are true football players. They can't miss!!! MARCH ON SPARTANS--I AND ALOT OF OTHER PEOPLE ARE BEHIND YOU ALL THE WAY!!!

mississippi
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mississippi 08/29/07 - 10:15 pm
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Aye; let's go SPARTANS, let's

Aye; let's go SPARTANS, let's make some noise this year. Every team on your schedule is beatable and this is just the team to do it.

former spartan
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former spartan 08/30/07 - 01:09 pm
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i am sorry to say, but the

i am sorry to say, but the Spartans may not be able to win with Tolbert at the helm. I used to play for this guy and he has no integrity.

former spartan
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former spartan 08/30/07 - 01:11 pm
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... he is still preaching the

... he is still preaching the same stuff since 1994 about Deon & the Tolbert boys. That was middle school football, not high school. He has to let that go & attend some coaching camps.

vint100
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vint100 08/30/07 - 05:14 pm
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Let's go Spartans. Coach was

Let's go Spartans. Coach was chosen for a reason. Get her done coach.

bad spartans
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bad spartans 08/30/07 - 11:48 pm
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I have been with this team

I have been with this team all summer long. They have something that can't be tainted by human reviews. I have seen the head coach almost in tears when his team pulled together to get over obstacles that where moved by god. There are a lot of haters out thier and every kid has his own reason am sure to hate on a team or coach. I attended there meeting today and you could feel the spirit all around the coaching staff and the kids in the gym. To win doesn't always mean you won the contest to lose doesn't always mean you lost the game. These kids love each other and the coaches love them back. Regardless what the news casters print regardless of what un godly people say about this team. YOU WON'T STILL THEIR JOY OR THEIR THUNDER, BECAUSE THE JOY THAT THEY HAVE THE WORLD DIDN'T GIVE AND THE WORLD CAN'T TAKE IT AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

former spartan
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former spartan 08/31/07 - 08:48 am
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bad spartans, i want the

bad spartans, i want the spartans to succeed on & off the football field just as much as you or any other fan of Glenn Hills. I am a firm believer that coaching makes the difference. as far as Tolbert's emotions... he is a guy that gets aroused and there is nothing wrong with that, but that doesn't make him a good head coach. when i first met him, i had much admiration for him, he knew how to get us players excited, but he wasn't a great teacher TO ME and as i got to know him on the football field, his integrity became a question mark TO ME. now because my sentiments for the coach doesn't match yours, that makes me an ungodly person? people with opposite opinions of you do not make them ungodly. Again, the coaching staff must live in the present and not in the past. The game of football evolves every year with different generational players and mindsets.

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