Chiles, Big Bend teams ready to go

Chiles, Big Bend teams ready to go

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Chiles, Big Bend teams ready to go

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The defensive showing by Chiles High in its preseason jamboree last week against FAMU High was a welcomed surprise for coach Mike Lassiter.

The Timberwolves limited the Rattlers to 186 total yards and caused six fumbles in the 47-6 victory. Lassiter is hopeful that effort continues tonight, when Chiles opens its regular season against visiting Rickards.

“Our defense was more on spot than I thought they were going to be,” Lassiter said.

Teams across the Big Bend are also hoping for quick starts as the prep season kicks off.

Defending Class 2A state champion NFC opens defense of its title at home against Deerfield Windsor of Albany, Ga., while defending Class A state champion Jefferson County travels to Panama City Bay.

The city rivalry between Godby and Leon continues at Cox Stadium; Florida High is at home against Panama City Rutherford; and FAMU High is at Maclay.

Chiles, which has struggled the past few years, is determined to build on its effort from last week.

“We had a great performance and I was very proud of the guys,” senior linebacker Justin Griffin said. “We have to take care of Rickards. It’s going to be a tough game because of what happened last year, but hopefully we can go do what we need to do.”

Senior offensive tackle Sean Miller said the offense would have the same mentality.

“It feels great, but we have to look past this and get ready for (tonight),” Miller said. “This was just a scrimmage. We have to keep our heads high and be prepared for the regular season.”

Lassiter said the game was a culmination of the team’s off-season preparation.

“We talked to our kids all week about execution on offense and on defense,” he said. “We wanted to come out and do what we have been practicing all spring. Momentum is the biggest thing. If they continue to put out effort like that, the sky is the limit.”

Repeating as state champion may gotten more difficult for NFC, which lost star running back Jonathan Vickers for the season with a broken leg suffered in the team’s preseason win over Maclay.

Additionally, the Eagles have a new quarterback and must replace 19 seniors from last season’s undefeated team.

“We kind of preach to our seniors each year that they have an opportunity to leave a legacy here,” NFC coach Robert Craft said.

“A lot of senior classes have left a pretty big one. They want an opportunity to do that. They have no other shy goals besides get in the playoffs and make a run. We just have to take steps each week. Every week is building for that first round playoff game.”

In additon to Vickers, senior receiver Branton Lee is injured. His status for the season is uncertain.

“Jonathan is definitely an impact player on our team, but we have to step up and make plays for him,” said senior wide receiver Marcus Clark, who figures to see a few more carries from the backfield now.

“And we’ll have to do that throughout the season, for however long he’s gone for.”

Despite the injuries and questions marks, Craft said the Eagles’ expectations haven’t changed.

“I think our guys are ready for that and they accept that,” Craft said. “It’s a challenge for coaches to get these guys ready to play.”

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