Monticello Coach Greg Tiner believes the 5-A Southeast Conference is going to be pretty even this year, with Watson Chapel perhaps a cut above the rest but they’re “beatable.”

“There is a fine line between winning a conference championship and not making the play-offs,” Tiner said. “We feel we’re able to win the conference but there’s not going to be a lot of wiggle room.

“We’re going to have to avoid mistakes and the special teams and kicking game is going to be very important. We’re going to have to play with a sense of urgency,” he said.

The Billies will kick off their season on September 2 at Hamburg:

 

Monticello, picked to finish second in the 5-A Southeast Conference this year, has only one returning starter on offense and four on defense but Tiner says his team is going to be much better on the offensive line and he’s excited about this year’s defense.

“We’ve got only four returning starters on defense but a lot of kids got playing time last year and they got better and better as the year went on,” Tiner said. “We expect to be a better defensive team because of that.”

Monticello, which requires its quarterbacks to do a lot of play changing at the line of scrimmage and a lot of reading in the triple option, has a good 3-way battle going at the quarterback position.

“We’ve got three guys, Cole Connelley, Will Naron, and Imani Riley,” Tiner said. “It’s a great situation for us.”

Connelley, a 5-9, 160-pound junior, is slightly ahead right now, according to Tiner.

“Cole is hard-nosed and very smart, a 4.0 student,” Tiner said. “He runs the offense well.”

Naron, a 5-11, 160-pound junior, is getting better every day and closing the gap, according to Tiner.

“He’s getting better at running the offense and he throws the ball well,” Tiner said.

Riley, who also plays linebacker, is a very good athlete, Tiner said.

“He’s very strong and is getting better every day,” Tiner said. “I think he’s going to be an outstanding player.”

Key Players

Troy Brunson, Senior, (5-10, 215) LB/C

“Troy is the kind of kid you dream about coaching,” Tiner said. “He’s a great kid, very intelligent, intense, and a hard worker. He’s definitely one of the leaders on our football team.”

Edwin Thornton, Senior, (5-10,175) SB/FS

“He’ll strike you and make sure we’re lined up correctly in the secondary,” Tiner said. “He’s very intelligent and he’ll be one of our defensive leaders.”

Kameron Smith, Senior, (5-10, 185) OG/DE

Smith started three games last year but missed most of the 2010 season after sustaining a knee injury. “He’s a very hard-nosed player who plays with great technique,” Tiner said. “He has high character and will be one of our team leaders.”

Justin Avery, Junior, (6-2, 280) OG/DL

“He’s a big guy, strong, and very athletic,” Tiner said. “It’s amazing how much better he’s got since the last play-off game. He continues to get better very day. He’ll be a college prospect.”

Beau Rush, Junior, (6, 185) LB

“Beau started as a sophomore and the experience paid off for him; he’s much improved,” Tiner said. “He’s very intelligent and a hard hitter. He’s one of the best players on defense.”

Kelvin Ridgell, Senior, (6, 175) WR/FS

“Kelvin played some last year,” Tiner said. “He’s an extremely hard worker, he’s aggressive, and he’s a hard hitter. He’ll also be one of our defensive leaders.”

Jordan Smith, Senior, (5-11, 290) DL

“Jordan came on in the second half of the season last year and got better and better,” Tiner said. “He had an outstanding spring and we expect big things out of him. He’s strong and has very good feet. I’m excited about Jordan.”

Dyquan Daniel, Senior, (5-10, 260) OL

“Dyquan is an outstanding young man,” Tiner said. “He’s very strong and runs well for a big guy. He’ll be one of the mainstays for us on the offensive line.” Daniel pulled a 630-pound dead lift and squats over 500 pounds