Prep football preview: Donoho hopes to improve its fortunes in 2013
by Al Muskewitz
amuskewitz@annistonstar.com
Aug 22, 2013 | 2706 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Donoho varsity football team lines up at practice, with quarterback Chris Carr calling the play. (Photo by Shannon Tucker/The Anniston Star)
The Donoho varsity football team lines up at practice, with quarterback Chris Carr calling the play. (Photo by Shannon Tucker/The Anniston Star)
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Shannon Felder wanted to change the luck of his Donoho football team.

So, he rearranged the furniture in his coach's office.

Don't laugh. It used to work when he was growing in Texas and he hopes it imparts the same kind of magic here as the Falcons look for a better record and even deeper run in what would be a record fourth straight trip to the playoffs during Felder’s tenure.

"My grandmother says move things around, it kind of changes your luck," Felder said. "Not that my luck has been bad, but it's like good looking better."

He actually started moving things at the end the spring, after the Falcons tied TCC and lost to Wadley on a last-second kick in a jamboree. Soon thereafter, he picked up some new players to his program.

See, things already were looking up.

"I guess it's to change things up, the expectation of something bigger and better," he said. "We moved it around at the house, we moved it around in the office. I'm pretty superstitious, so if it's a good football season nothing will move."

The Falcons had a lot of good luck early last year. They won their first four games by an average margin of 24 points to set up a spot in the playoffs, then cooled off when the schedule toughened and were outscored 259-134 the rest of the year.

They ultimately made the playoffs by beating Gaylesville in their final regular-season game and on the strength of a two-point win on opening night against Valley Head.

The schedule is the same this year only flipped, so the Falcons know what's required. The difference, Felder said, is their opponents have elevated their games just as the Falcons expect to.

“We’ve made the playoffs three years in a row and certainly our goal is to make it four years in a row,” Felder said. “We were able to win five games last year. We’ve set a goal to win more games than we did last year.

“Everything we did last year we want to help us be able to do everything at a higher level. The middle part of the schedule was the tough part for us and we certainly want to be able to … try to get better and play better than we did and give ourselves a chance to be successful. I don’t think last year we played as well as were capable and therefore we didn’t give ourselves a chance to be successful.”

And about those new players that joined the team after the furniture was rearranged? They brought the Falcons' varsity roster to 18 players, meaning seven or eight will be playing multiple positions this year.

They have only one senior -- Chris Carr -- and he inherits the starting quarterback spot from Marshall Ghee.

Carr's younger brother, sophomore Kevin, Ben Myrick and powerful Justin Foster will be the primary runners.

Trey Brown and Dalton Morton are the receivers. The line features center Jesse McWilliams, guards Parker Morgan and Jake Ulrey, physical tackle Axis Heathcock and either Jake Kaplan or Reaves Nelson at the other tackle.

"Offensively, we've got some guys coming back with game experience," Felder said. "We've got to get those guys playing with more confidence and little more physical."

Defensively, they'll have Heathcock, Ulrey and Walker Montgomery up front, Foster and Sam Garner at linebacker, the Carr brothers at safety and Dalton and Ben at cornerback.

Garner was on the line last year, but has been moved back to linebacker to better utilize his speed and physicality.

"All in all we feel like we’ve got some people who if we get some experience and get some confidence we feel like we can make the playoffs," Felder said. "Making the playoffs four years in a row would be big for us, and trying to win more games this year than we did last year."

Al Muskewitz is a sports writer for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.

Donoho at a glance

Head coach:
Shannon Felder (49-50 in nine years at Donoho; 54-64 overall in 11 years, including 5-14 in two years at Wilcox Central).

Last year’s record: 5-5, including 5-3 and a fourth-place finish in Class 1A, Region 7. The Falcons lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Outlook: The Falcons will be looking to make the playoffs for an unprecedented fourth straight year under Felder. With limited numbers, the two keys to their success will be building consistency on both lines and staying healthy. Chris Carr, the team’s only senior, will replace Marshall Ghee at quarterback.

Schedule

Aug. 30, vs. Valley Head

Sept. 6, vs. Coosa Christian

Sept. 13, at Jacksonville Christian

Sept. 20, at Woodville

Sept. 27, vs. Collinsville

Oct. 4, at Falkville

Oct. 11, vs. Cedar Bluff

Oct. 18, at Spring Garden

Oct. 25, at Gaylesville
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