Williams pleased with Linden offseason

The Patriots work on special teams during a recent practice.

The Patriots work on special teams during a recent practice.

During the Andro Williams era, Linden has been blessed with a bevy of highly-regarded players on seemingly an annual basis.

Linden fans have watched the likes of Sean Richardson (Vanderbilt), Justin Delaine (Auburn), Maurice Tate (Alabama State), Anthony Robinson (UWA), Chris Rogers (Miles), Terris Lewis (Linden), Kendarius Fritts (Alabama A&M), Kynard Craig (Miles) and several other eventual collegiate signees pass through the Patriot way en route to next level opportunities.

Time will tell if the 2014 Patriots have more of the same stock filling their roster, but anonymity seems to be the theme for the latest installment of the Pats. And, yet, Williams is as excited about this squad as any he has had in his eight seasons with the program.

“Character and team camaraderie,” Williams said, noting what he feels is the biggest difference between the current Patriots and their 2013 predecessors that were routed by Maplesville in the third round of the Class 1A state playoffs. “I like our team chemistry. You’ve got guys that have stepped up and you’ve got guys who know who the leaders are and try to be great followers.”

Of the 34 players on the Linden roster, 11 are seniors. Many of those are returning starters or key contributors from a season ago.

But Williams’ optimism about this squad has as much to do with the underclassmen as it does the veterans.

“Of these 14 or 15 sophomore and junior guys, most of them saw a lot of action last year,” Williams said. “I won’t mind putting a lot of guys in the game.”

Underclassmen such as Trevin Raby, Bryce Chaney, Christopher Vintress, Christopher Robinson, Ca’Terious Hinton, Karlton Nathan, Charles Blackmon, Henry Lee and Bruce McIntosh should receive plenty of opportunities to prove themselves in key situations this season.

That level of depth means the Patriots will have fewer players that play the majority of snaps on both sides of the ball.

“We’ve got a few guys going both ways but, realistically, it’s not like we are going both ways because we’ve got other guys that can step up and give them a blow,” Williams said.

As the Patriots eyeball next week’s Jamboree event and their regular season opener at Class 2A power Washington County, Williams appears to have supreme confidence in his team. That assurance is rooted in what he has seen from his players during the offseason program.

“This has been one of the better offseasons we’ve had. We’ve got guys that get here early and leave late and are always trying to work on their craft,” Williams said. “They’ve taken the initiative in a lot of different areas to step up.”

Linden is set to open its regular season on the road in Chatom when it takes on Washington County Aug. 29.