Young PRC team doesn’t lack in leadership

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

Experience is one of the most common words used when evaluating football teams in the preseason. It’s a word that is occasionally used to overlook other encouraging aspects a team can employ to make it a playoff contender. In the Blue Devils’ case, head coach Larry Dolan believes there are many exciting facets PRC can rely on ahead of the 2017 season.

“There is a lot of excitement in Carriere. The people love football and athletics down here and that makes it fun to get ready. The kids know how important this time of the year is to this community and to be honest, there’s no better time in the school business than right now,” Dolan said.

Instead of the youthful Blue Devils roster focusing on its lack of veterans, Dolan said the team is creating leaders from all levels of players. The key to overcome the inexperience is finding a variety of leaders, all of which bring a different flair to the Blue Devils.

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“Our seniors are taking on the leader role, the effort’s there. We all understand what our job is and what the overall goal is, so I am pleased right now with this group,” Dolan said, who has 12 returning seniors.

The young Blue Devils have one of the toughest roads ahead in 5A football and coming off of a 4-7 season, the Carriere team needs all hands on deck to make its ultimate goal a reality.

The front seven of the Blue Devils defense, including a veteran linebacker corps, is what PRC will rely on to get through the tough Region 4-5A games in the second half of the season.

“Our linebacker play will be exciting to watch. Cody Skoda and Kobe Whitehead are going to make a lot of plays for us,” Dolan said. “They are the heart and soul of this defense and great leaders for this team.”

Skoda said he believes this team has the talent to go all the way, and “if we don’t win them all, I would definitely be disappointed. We have the potential to compete in every game on our schedule, it just comes down to heart.”

The Blue Devils’ starting quarterback is a veteran on the field, but new to the position. After having a career as a free safety, senior Tristan Anderson will be taking the snaps for PRC, a task he is eager to undertake. Before his senior year, the versatile athlete served many positions, including free safety and the main kick and punt returner. Anderson and Dolan believe he can continue to fill those positions as well as being the field general. Because Anderson is nursing a hamstring injury, he said he might play limited snaps the first couple of games, leaving the bulk of the quarterback responsibilities to freshman Cameron Brunson.

Also, starting running back Louis Reece is recovering from an ACL injury that occurred in May. Reece is the only returning Blue Devil running back who got touches last season. In his senior year, Reece said he hopes to get off to a good start and plans on coming back sooner than he expected.

“First game, I should be back, but we will see how I feel when that time comes,” Reece said. “I feel like everyone is going to look to me to carry the load, but I have prepared for this moment and am ready to lead as a senior.”

Pearl River Central travels to Hancock High School Aug. 18 to kick off their season.