GLEASON – Noah Lampkins has dealt with it during his entire time associated with Gleason High School football.
As a player and coach – he’s led the program as head coach for 13 years – the Bulldogs have never had one of the largest rosters in the area.
They’re usually among the smallest. That’s why he’d wish the TSSAA would take a suggestion that would help the extremely small schools across the state.
“They separated the largest 32 schools for Class 6A, so why not do the same with the smallest 32?” Lampkins said. “There’s a big difference between us small schools who have fewer than 200 students than those who have 400. But we’re all in the same class.”
If the TSSAA were to do that, other West Tennessee schools who would fall into that category include Greenfield, Bruceton, West Carroll and Humboldt along with Lake County and South Fulton. There would also be a few teams in Memphis as well.
“The problem is there aren’t as many small schools in East Tennessee, and it would take three hours to drive to a region game,” Lampkins said. “But I think it deserves some serious thought.”
For now, thought is all that suggestion will get. The Bulldogs enter the 2015 season in a new region that includes two teams coming off state championships and a number of others who have recent histories that have long playoff runs if not trips to Cookeville to play in state championships.
The Bulldogs lost a good amount of speed to graduation. More importantly, they lost a lot of experience as well. Lampkins said speed is coming back in the form of other players. The experience will be replaced with potential.
“There’s a lot of young guys who come in with a lot of ability, but until they get in there on a Friday night, we’re not totally sure what they’re going to do,” Lampkins said. “And we’ve got to stay healthy as possible.
“Because it’s not a matter of replacing one player with another off the bench for us. If a player goes down in some positions, we’re having to move players around to give us the best shot to compete before we decide to put that 12th guy in.”
The good news for the future is the Bulldogs shouldn’t lose many to graduation after this season. A total of six players were listed on last year’s roster as juniors. That group will need to lead the ’15 Bulldogs into some tough games. Lampkins said guys like Collin Niegocki and Grady Stafford have that ability.
“We can play with these teams as long as we stay healthy and are conditioned,” Lampkins said. “Both of those are keys for us.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751
Sun Sports on the radio
Tune in to WBFG-FM 96.5 on the radio or on the Tune-In listening app on your mobile device from 6-8 p.m. to listen to Varsity Focus Live with Brandon Shields and Greg Hammond for two hours of West Tennessee high school sports talk. The show will begin its look at Class 2A football and a look at Region 6-2A with appearances in the second hour by TCA head coach Blake Butler and McKenzie head coach Wade Comer.