Monticello coach Greg Tiner welcomes back eight starters from last year’s 7-3-1 season and adds the Pistol formation to the Billies playbook as they enter the scrappy 4A-8 conference. The Billies will work some out of the Pistol, a variation of the Shotgun in which the quarterback lines up about three yards behind the center with the running back behind him.
“We’re still doing the same things that we do under the center, the difference is we feel like we’re going to be able to throw the football a little bit more,” Tiner said. “It’s not something we’ll do all the time… but it’s something that will be a part of what we do.”
Direct link to video of Greg Tiner talking about the new pistol formation.
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Will Naron, a senior who had a season-ending hand injury the third game of the season, last year, will be Monticello’s starting quarterback. Like last year, the Billies have a three-way battle for the starting spot but Naron has the edge right now, Tiner said.
“He’s worked extremely hard in off-season, got bigger, a little bit faster and throws the football much better,” Tiner said. “Right now he has the edge in the quarterback situation and had a good spring and so far has had a good fall camp. We hope he continues to improve the way he has the last three or four weeks. We’re looking for big things out of him this year.”
Barnhill, a 5-8, 160-pound running back and defensive back, Davis, a 6-foot, 194-pound running back and defensive end, and Binns, a 5-9, 170 running back and defensive back, are going to have to do some really big things this year for the Billies to be successful, Tiner said.
Justin Avery, a 6-2, 285-pound offensive and defensive lineman who is drawing some college interest, will be mainstay on the offensive line. He is the only returning starter on the offensive and defensive lines.
Monticello, which lost a lot of good players on the defensive side of the ball last year, will also rely heavily on three-year starter Beau Rush, a 6-foot, 190-pound linebacker, and Cole Connelley, a 5-9, 175-pound linebacker who started nine games last year at quarterback. Connelley will likely play some at quarterback.
Other key players will be Zac Berryman, a 6-foot, 165-pound running back and linebacker, Demarius Blanks, a 6-foot, 175-pound wide receiver and defensive back, and Jordan Shelton, a 5-8, 160-pound offensive lineman and linebacker.
The Billies drop to 4A after reaching the 5A playoffs last year but Tiner believes the level of play, from top to bottom, will be tougher in the 4A-8. “The top tier of the conference we were in was tough but the conference we’re going in, we think from top to bottom, week in, week out, is going to be tougher,” Tiner said.
Monticello kicks off the season Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. taking on last year’s 4A-8 champion McGehee in the Hooten’s Classic at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
8-28 McGehee at UAPB
9-14 at Fordyce
9-21 at Star City
9-28 at Hamburg
10-05 Lake Village
10-12 at Crossett
11-01 at DeWitt