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In Shiloh’s spread-style offense, the quarterback is pivotal. That’s why it’s important for the Generals to find their QB.
“That’s the only way we can be successful is with that trigger man,” second-year Shiloh head coach Troy Hobbs said.
Wil Larimore, who played sparingly last season, appears to be that guy. But he’s still battling with Sean Balsey for the starting job.
“We have to get him under the lights,” Hobbs said.
Whoever emerges as the QB will have some talented skill players around him. Cameron Stewart (pictures), a major D-I prospect, is the team’s leading receiver from a year ago with 614 yards receiving and nine TDs. Devonta Henderson returns at the other receiver spot and Elliot Strickland will play tight end.
“They’ve gotten better because of what people may do to Cameron,” Hobbs said. “They’ve just got to continue to get better.”
Charles Shavers, who rushed for 180 yards in the final game of the season against Central Gwinnett, will take over at running back.
The offensive line has two starters back in Xavier Carter and Causley Leslie at the guard spots, while Juan Quero is the center.Jabari Dickson, Dominic Taylor, Parkview transfer Jamie Glenn and 6-foot-5, 280-pound Darion DeBrosard will rotate at the tackle spots.
“If we can get them going, we’ll be OK,” Hobbs said.
Shiloh brought in former Berkmar head coach Wendell Early, who coached last year at St. Pius, to be the Generals’ defensive coordinator. Early has scrapped the the 3-5 defense run under Bryan Love, who took the head job at Westlake, and brought in a 4-3 defense.
The strength of the defense should be the line with three returning starters back in Xavier Carter, Keith Thicklin and Kejahn Joseph. Carter was an all-county honorable mention by the Gwinnett Touchdown Club.
“Obviously our defensive front with those three guys returning gives us a lot of experience,” Hobbs said.
Linebacker Amari Newsome returns and will be joined by Daron Bowles, who has bulked up and moved from corner. The group also adds Redan transfer Keishan Heath, who had 88 tackles, three fumble recoveries and one sack last year.
“Our defensive front is going to have to help us make some plays,” Hobbs said.
The secondary might be the biggest question mark, but Hobbs likes the competition he’s seen with the group this summer. Austin Exford returns at safety along with track standout Jeremy McDuffie at corner.
“We’ve got some kids back there that can play,” Hobbs said.
YEAR TWO CHANGES
Hobbs took over as Shiloh’s head coach in late May of 2012, so he didn’t have much time to make a lot of changes to the program. He had to get ready for the season. It was a different case this offseason. He didn’t allow players in the Generals’ brand new new field house until two weeks before spring practice.
“I wanted them to have a sense of it’s mine, but I have to work to get mine,” Hobbs said. “They hated me. But they had to do it.”
The tough love has helped the program. Shiloh has more kids out for football this season than recent years. The ninth-grade class is the biggest it’s had in a long time and more players were eligible during the summer.
“We won three games last year, but overall the program evaluation, we had a lot more wins that outsiders don’t know about,” Hobbs said. “We have improved from that. That’s going to make us a better program overall.”
Shiloh added several new assistant coaches, including a few with familiar names. Early is the new defensive coordinator after serving as a defensive coach for St. Pius’ Class AAA state runner-up team a year ago. Philip Davis, a 2007 Peachtree Ridge grad, will coach the secondary. Davis was an all-county selection on the Lions’ 2006 state title team. Former Atlanta Falcon Ed Hartwell, who appeared on the reality show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” is the team’s linebacker coach. Clinton Lawrence is the team’s offensive line and strength coach after serving as head coach at Redan in 2010 and 2011. … Shiloh was able to participate in a lot more passing league tournaments this summer and the Generals had some success. They finished in the top three at the University of Alabama and reached quarterfinals at the tournament at Lassiter. “It was good to get on that circuit, to see other teams and compete. That’s all I wanted to see,” Hobbs said. … Shiloh has 92 players in the program from 10th to 12th grade, including 22 seniors. It’s an increase of about 15-20 players from last year.