What to watch: Linebackers are deep, but young players must step-up

Published 5:04 pm Friday, July 22, 2016

Despite graduating three seniors, the Bainbridge linebacker positions are in the hands of good players and guided by great coaches.

Senior Donovan McCray and junior Tre Storey are at the forefront of a six-man battle, according to linebacker coach Dan Klages.

“We’ve got five or six kids that are working for those two slots, so competition is pretty tight,” Klages said. “Right now, Tre is probably one of our most physical guys. The contact he brings is big, and he runs well in short bursts of speed.”

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Senior Malique Pate, who rushed for 302 yards on 69 carries last year, has been working into the defensive position this summer. Klages said his speed is a key factor that makes him good for linebacker.

Junior Will Kelley is right there in the thick of the battle, as well.

“What he brings to the table is he is tremendously strong,” Klages said. “He is a 300-plus power clean guy, and he really does a good job getting in throwing lanes. He just has a knack for tipping and knocking balls down.”

Other players to look out for at linebacker are sophomores Bowen Dodson and Randy Fillingame, who came in last year as ninth graders and are getting better every day, according to Klages.

“Right now, I don’t know how spectacular we are, but we have some depth,” Klages said. “We hope that at least two or three of them will step forward and push themselves ahead of the race. If not, then we will have competition all year long. I look for that group to continue to improve throughout the year.”

Stepping into the outside linebacker positions are senior Kerenski Williams, who is assuming his position from last season, and senior Dalvin Spivie. Williams was second on the team with 105 solo tackles last season, 21 of them for a loss. Spivie racked up 53, 10 for a loss.

Spivie will be the strong side linebacker, according to coach Joe Dollar.

“Speed and athleticism,” Dollar said as the two traits that won Williams and Spivie the starting outside linebacker jobs. “They are able to do a lot of different things inside, but they also do secondary type things, like dealing with spread offenses.”

Tremaine Campbell, Zyon McGee, Caleb Boutwell and Brandon Register are other players gunning for positions on the depth chart for outside linebacker.

The Bainbridge Bearcats will scrimmage at Lowndes (Florida) at 8 p.m. on August 5, followed by another scrimmage at Godby (Florida) on August 18 at 7 p.m. The season kicks off at home against Lee County at Centennial Field at 7:30 p.m.

Check back next issue for a preview on the offensive linemen.