Coming off of a 6-5 season with only four returning starters, a lot of Warren’s success this year will depend upon how well Bo Hembree’s young team handles the expectations of being Warren.
“We’ve just got to handle the expectations of being Warren,” Hembree said. “We know we’re everybody’s big ball game. It’s been that way for the last 10 or 11 years. It just depends on how our kids handle that situation. I didn’t think last year we handled that very well and I’m hoping we learned something from that.”
Warren will kick off their season on September 2 playing Fordyce.
Hembree, who has an impressive coaching record of 112-27, including eight conference championships and two state championships during his 11 years at Warren, will be looking to his four returning starters to be team leaders this year.
Three players return on the offensive side of the ball, including wide receiver Jalen Cobb (6-1, 175), offensive lineman Montana Robbins (5-10, 260) and offensive lineman Brent Strickland (5-11, 285), while defensive back Justin Hall (5-9, 165) returns on defense.
Two sophomores, Drake Jones (5-11, 195) and Voneric Gonder (5-10, 175) are battling for the quarterback spot.
“It’s a battle but (Jones) is leading right now,” Hembree said. “He started the last three games for us last year. He’s a smart kid who had to grow up in a hurry last year. He gained a lot of experience and I hope it pays off for him.”
Gonder, who started the last three games at receiver last year, moved to quarterback in the spring.
“He’s done a really good job of picking it up and he’s been able to battle Drake this fall for the starting quarterback spot but he can also play different positions,” Hembree said.
Other Key Players
Chris Oliver (5-8, 150) WR
“Chris (a sophomore) is one of the fastest kids we have and he played a lot last year when we moved him up,” Hembree said. “He’s one of the kids we want to have the ball in his hands to make plays.”
Trey English (5-9, 150) WR
“Trey’s a lot like Chris, he played a lot last year from the middle of the year on,” Hembree said. “He’s got a lot of speed and I think he grew up a lot last year. I think he’s going to be one of our leaders this year.”
Jamal Bell (6-3, 320) OL
“He’s got a great upside,” Hembree said. “He’s just gotta learn what we’re doing and be aggressive and play every play hard. I think he’s got a bright future.”
Jacob Rowell (5-10, 185) OL
“Jacob is a competitor,” Hembree said. “He’s probably the smallest guy we’ve got on the offensive line but he battles; every play he’s battling. I think he’s got a great chance to help us the next three years.”
Zack Raper (6-2, 220) OL
“Zack’s a senior, he played a lot last year, and we’re looking for him to be a leader up front,” Hembree said. “With his experience from last year, I think he’ll be able to help the young guys come along pretty well.”
Mickel Towler (5-9, 310) DL
“He’s a big boy that can run well for his size,” Hembree said. “He’s just got to stay healthy. He’s having shoulder problems.”
Quinton Davis (5-9, 330) DL
“Quinton had a great spring and summer,” Hembree said. “He’s lost a ton of weight and can move better. Hopefully, he’s gonna be a big part of our defense in the middle.”
Jason Matthews (6-2 270) DL
“Jason has a great work ethic, he comes out every day learning the defense,” Hembree said. “He’s a senior and first year player. He’s got a great upside also. His inexperience is the only thing slowing him down right now.”
Kendrick Newton (5-11, 220) LB
“Kendrick’s got a chance to be a really good football player before he leaves here,” Hembree said. “He started the last three games for us last year at middle linebacker and did a really good job. He’s got a lot bigger and faster than he was last year. I think he’s going to grow with confidence.”
Keith Davis (5-10, 190) LB
“Keith’s got a great motor and he runs the football really well,” Hembree said. “He’s kind of our energizer on defense; he gets everybody going.”
Daquan Daniels (5-9, 160) LB
“He played a lot last year when we moved him up,” Hembree said. “He’s a small guy who loves to play football.”
Shaquille Thomas (5-9, 150) DB
“He started the last couple of games for us last year at corner and he got better over the spring and the summer,” Hembree said. “He’s worked on his speed and is able to play that position better now.”
Troy Sellers (5-9, 165) DB
“Troy’s a senior who didn’t play last year but came back out and he’s been a totally different person,” Hembree said. “He’s got a great work ethic right now and hopefully that’s going to carry him a long way.”
Curtis Martin (5-10, 155) DB
“Curtis couldn’t play last year because of an injury,” Hembree said. “He was a big loss for us last year; him being back is really going to help us.”