ANNISTON — Anniston High coach Eddie Bullock is fully aware of the challenges the Bulldogs are facing. Despite having confidence seeing his squad develop into a good one, Bullock said the Bulldogs' youth has him believing this will be “one of the toughest seasons I’ll have to coach.”
Anniston's development will be a week-by-week thing, Bullock added. With only three starters returning on offense and five on defense, Bullock is calling onplenty of underclassmen to pick up where last year’s seniors left off.
“I’m basically hoping by Game 3 or 4 we’ll be in stride,” Bullock said. “By then we should have our jitters out of the way and we’ll be into the season and know what to expect. We just have to make sure we execute and don’t make mistakes.”
But while Anniston’s youth trumps its experience, the team’s attitude is better than teams Bullock has coached in the past. Add that to the upperclassmen having been in his system the last three years, and Bullock has solid expectations for the season.
“We’re still extremely young and will have a lot of ninth and tenth graders playing, but they’re more disciplined than we’ve been in the past,” he said. “They aren’t as athletic as players we’ve had in the past, but that’ll come in a few years.”
The wide receiving corps is up to par in athleticism right now, though. Bullock noted they have a “little bit of swag.” While senior Quin Jackson is the leader of the force, senior Qua Frazier, who hasn’t played football since eighth grade, is also making a name for himself.
“We know we can catch, and no one can guard us. That’s just our mentality when we step on the field,”Jackson said. “We’re physical and no one can touch us.”
While Frazier said he thinks Anniston will throw more this season, junior Quint Dobbins is taking over fulltime at quarterback after splitting time last season.
“What we’re trying to do with Dobbins is let him have a little more authoritative voice and let him know that the guys look to him for leadership as a leader on and off the field,” Bullock said. “All the skills are there he just has to realize that the offense is his. Whether they’re successful is on him.”
When Dobbins isn’t creating the Bulldogs’ passing attack, his handoffs this season could go to any number of running backs. Bullock listed underclassmen Edward Montgomery, Devon Campbell, L.J. Heard, Da’Monta Miller, DeMarcus Thomas and senior Donovan Lucas as options.
“To be honest, I like them all. I’ve got the luxury with running backs this year,” Bullock said.“We’re young and they have to learn the system, but talent-wise it’s there. You just have to develop the talent and get an opportunity to learn the plays and things we do. I’m really excited because all of them bring something different to the table.”
On defense Bullock said the veins run through the defensive backs, including seniors Keviuntae Henry, Elvin Riddle and sophomore Chris Beard.
“The secondary is looking good and of course the defensive line has been solid,” Bullock said.“We just have a little work to do at linebacker. We’ve got Tevin Davis, who will be a leader, moving back to linebacker so he and Keviante Reyes will be the leaders on defense. We’re just surrounding them with young guys. We’re have a mixture of young and old and I like that.”
No matter how talented the Bulldogs are, however, they’ll need to be ready against Greenville on Aug. 30 and especially the following week when Class 4A, Region 5 play begins with Cleburne County coming to town. Although Anniston has made the playoffs every year since 2008, the Bulldogs know what a struggle making the playoffs is in Region 5.
“I think our region will be the same that it normally is,” Bullock said. “I think four wins in the region that you’ll make the playoffs, five definitely. Our region is so tough that you have to steal them any way you can.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.
Anniston at a glance Head coach: Eddie Bullock (24-14 in four years at Anniston)
2012 record: 5-6, 4-3 in Class 4A, Region 5. Finished tied for fourth in Region 5. Lost to Oneonta 47-0 in first round of Class 4A playoffs.
Outlook: The Bulldogs will set the standard of being young with only three returning offensive starters and five returning on defensive. Anniston will need to grow up quickly if it hopes to make the postseason for the fourth straight year under Bullock. Consistency will be the key after the Bulldogs won by an average of 12.25 in region victories in 2012 and lost by an average of 13.0 against region foes.
Anniston's 2013 schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Greenville
Sept. 6 vs. Cleburne County
Sept. 13 at Lincoln
Sept. 20 vs. Alexandria
Sept. 27 at Handley
Oct. 4 at Jacksonville
Oct. 11 at Cherokee County
Oct. 18 vs. Hokes Bluff
Oct. 25 at Munford
Nov. 1 vs. Carver (Montgomery)