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Story Archives: Ouachita football has holes to fill this summer
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|Ouachita football has holes to fill this summer|
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series on local high school football teams and what they are doing during the summer break.
Many things have changed for the Ouachita Lions football team during the sweltering summer months.
Coming out of the spring the Lions are trying to regroup and reload after a quarterfinal season saw 16 starters graduate in May.
Many sophomores and juniors are being counted on to step up and make a smooth transition to a mainstream starting role for Ouachita.
"We lost a lot of starters," Ouachita Lions head coach John Carr said. "We had to take a good hard look at our sophomore class and we needed some guys to step up and take command of some spots on the football field."
Two of the biggest holes to be filled going into spring practice was quarterback and running back.
With all-district running back Montrell Conner off to Mississippi State and quarterback Corey Treadway heading off to his own college career, the Lions needed a quick fix on offense to keep their ferocious offensive onslaught that made them a deep playoff contender in 2008.
Senior signal-caller Keegan Staten and a sophomore by the name of Quinton Wheeler impressed coaches with their arm strength and decision-making during spring drills.
The two players have been outside throwing the ball during the summer months to improve timing and mechanics in addition to their strength and conditioning drills.
With Conner leaving, the Lions had even bigger shoes to fill at the running back position this summer.
Ricky McCarty, a junior, as well as sophomore Demarcus Sledge came on really strong during spring drills.
"Ricky and Demarcus showed a lot of speed and strength running the ball," Carr said. "They have run real well and we had a good look at them coming out of spring ball."
Inexperience will be the name of the game for the Ouachita offensive line during the upcoming season.
Corey Christensen is the lone senior and only returning starter along the line for the Lions.
"We have about five or six guys in the rotation," Carr said. "Any of those guys could play for us at some point this year."
Ouachita had senior Ryan Gephardt come on strong as the go-to receiver in the spring game.
"We lost pretty much everybody at wide out," Carr said. "Timothy McNeal is 6-5 and has good hands and big play potential. I think Xavier Wilson will also be a big time playmaker for us."
The Ouachita defense saw just four returning starters this spring from a solid group in 2008. The lions believe the biggest concern right now on defense is their defensive line.
"We still have Nick Ross, an all-district safety," Carr said. "Andy Roberts at linebacker had a good spring."
Ouachita will continue to work out throughout the summer to get bigger and stronger.
"We get the kids in here for at least 24 of the 28 sessions," Carr said. "We know that people go on vacations and things but if they are in town they should be here just like during the regular season."