Linden looking for leadership in jamboree

Pickens County will provide  the test during an for Linden Friday night during an exhibition jamboree contest as Andro Williams gets his first real look at what his team has to offer in 2012.

Linden head coach calls out players’ names for drills during preseason practice.

The 2011 Linden Patriots put together the best run in school history, going 13-2 and finishing as Class 1A state runner-up with a Bryant-Denny Stadium loss to Marion County in the Super 6 last December. While certain key names, such as ASWA Class 1A Back of the Year runner-up Anthony Robinson, remain in place for the Patriots, questions abound after the graduation of a talented class that included four college signees.

“We’re sort of identifying everybody. We’re identifying ourselves and trying to find ourselves,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said of his team’s ongoing quest to fill in the blanks.

Robinson will lead the squad from the quarterback and free safety spots. His defensive prowess netted him seven interceptions in 2011, second on the team to Jalen Lewis’ 10. That tandem, along with Jamal Lewis, return as starters in the secondary. The strong safety position will be filled by a combination of Kynard Craig and Marquis Shelton. Terrance Sanders is also likely to get considerable reps in the defensive backfield.

The front seven for Linden will not be quite so recognizable. Leading the way in that group will be middle linebacker Chris Rogers, who turned in almost 100  tackles a season ago. Rogers will be joined in the linebacker corps by Eric Monroe, Santerrious Jones, Prentiss McCuiston, Jamon Evans and Craig. They will provide support to a line that includes the physically imposing Tyler Davis, Dewayne Gilmore, Jalen Bell, Patrick McIntosh and Caterious Hinton.

For the Patriots, Friday night and the ensuing practices are about who remains and how they will fill the leadership void left by Troy signee Terris Lewis and other new collegiate players such as Ryan Preston, Kevan Rembert and Julian Little.

“We definitely have to find ways to find our leaders on this football team. We’ve got to make sure we get some guys stepping up as the season goes on,” Williams said. “We definitely have to find some guys that can step up and hold their own verbally as well as on the field.”

The offensive side of the ball will see a little more consistency as Robinson, Shelton and Jamal Lewis return to the backfield. Jalen Lewis, who started just one game on offense in 2011, will get a regular workload in the backfield this season while McCuiston will also see his share of snaps.

The offensive line returns Rogers, Davis and Gilmore as starters while Monroe and Bell step onto the first team front for the first time.

The new faces on offense for Linden this season come in the form of Jeffery Stacy and Craig, both of which will see time at tight end and wide receiver this season.

With most of the cast in place, Williams said Friday night in Pickens County will be serve as a final rehearsal while he attempts to identify which players can live up to their roles.

“We’re just trying to find out who is ready to play,” Williams said. ‘Those guys have been working over the summer. We have to find out if they are ready to step up against a monstrous bunch. We’re going to find out if we have contenders or pretenders. These people we’re playing, they can run. They’re fast. They’re big. They’re strong. At the end of the day, we’re going to try to make sure we do what we do and we execute what we do on both sides of the ball.”