Second-year Minden High School football coach Spencer Heard takes a long view when looking at his program.
Sure, Heard is trying to get his team back in the state playoffs after missing last season with a 4-6 record. But Heard is looking deeper than just the varsity level.
“We’re trying to get the program going from top to bottom,’’ he said, “ from varsity all the way down to middle school. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.’’
Minden does have an advantage in having its middle school serve as a feeder program.
The basic principles of the Crimson Tide offense and defense are instilled at the middle school level. When players come to high school, they already have an idea of how the Minden High School offense and defense works.
Heard, though, sees more than just formations and plays being run by younger players who will one day arrive at the high school.
He sees talent.
“I look down the line and we had a very good freshman team last year,’’ Heard said.
“They were 9-0. That’s the sophomores now. The eighth-grade team from last year only lost one game, to Elm Grove. I look down the line and both the classes in middle school look to have talent.’’
It’s a good thing because nearly half the Crimson Tide roster (26 of 56) comes from the sophomore class.
“Being young, it doesn’t really matter. Train them up,’’ Heard said.
One of those sophomores will be behind center this season.
Sophomore Antonio Rivett will be the new Minden quarterback. He replaces graduated senior Turner Francis, who threw for 2,467 yards and 26 touchdowns with nine interceptions last season. While Minden figures to still pass the ball often, the Crimson Tide may add a few wrinkles to the offense with Rivett.
“We’re pretty excited about (Rivett),’’ Heard said. “He’s kind of a dual-threat type of guy. I think he has a chance to be a good one.’’
Rivett will play behind a line that returns three starters from a year ago.
“I was telling one of our coaches the other days, ‘We’re young on offense but the good thing is we’ve got some experience up front.’ Hopefully that’s going to give us time to come together at the skill positions,’’Heard said. “Maybe just run the ball and let these skill position guys learn and get comfortable faster.’’
Sophomore running back Kolby Jackson figures to get plenty of carries for the Crimson Tide. Another sophomore to watch is tight end Kelcey Miller.
Minden does have some experience on offense with L’Jarius Sneed, who played running back and wide receiver while splitting time at safety, and Taylor McKissack who played fullback and linebacker.
The Crimson Tide is led defensively by defensive back Marcellous Moses, McKissack and a pair of sophomore linebackers in Zikerrion Baker and Cameron Moore.
Even with a new quarterback and a sophomore-heavy roster, Heard expects big things from his team in 2014 — even a trip to the playoffs.
“I think they’ve bought into this idea of being one team,’’ Heard said. “That’s what we’ve preached this year. Not being selfish. Not putting yourself above the team. They’re doing a great job. There’s a lot of good senior leadership in this class.
“I believe if we take care of business and keep working like we’re working I definitely think (the playoffs) is something we can obtain. We’re working to get in the situation where going into the season you pretty well expect that. We’re moving toward that. With this young group of kids and the success they had last year, and the group before that, they understand winning. They know what it feels like.’’
Minden Crimson Tide
Coach: Spencer Heard
2013 record: 4-6
Sept. 5: Southwood
Sept. 12: at Bolton
Sept. 19: at Haughton
Sept. 26: Woodlawn
Oct. 3: at Fair Park
Oct. 10: Loyola
Oct. 17: at North DeSoto
Oct. 24: at Benton
Oct. 31: Huntington
Nov. 7: Northwood