Robbinsville football coach Dee Walsh is upfront about his team’s biggest strength.
What’s up front.
The defending NCHSAA 1-A champions have all five offensive linemen back from their 16-0 season in 2014.
“We feel good about our chances to compete with those kids returning,” Walsh said.
“They got better and grew together last season.”
Austin Hedrick is the headliner. The 6-foot-3, 323-pound senior was the Smoky Mountain Conference Lineman of the Year as an 11th grader. He was also selected to the NCPreps.com 1-A all-state and Citizen-Times All-WNC teams.
As a team, the Black Knights rushed for 4,950 yards and 66 touchdowns behind the blocking of Hedrick, as well as junior Case Hooper, senior Toby Hedrick, junior Logan Odom and senior Kadin White.
Incoming quarterback Colton Millsaps sat out much of his junior year with a broken foot but was able to return for the playoff run. Senior Lane Millsaps is expected to take over at tailback, with junior Colby Hemphill returning at fullback.
Senior Paden Welch (11.8 tackles per game in 2014) is back on defense, as are Lane Millsaps (7.7), junior Chandler Jumper (4.6) and Hedrick (4.4).
The Black Knights have about 25-30 players attending workouts at the moment.
“We feel good about what we’ve seen so far,” Walsh said.
“There’s no doubt, it’s going to be another real competitive and real tough year in the Smoky Mountain Conference.”
Walsh was the 2014 All-WNC Coach of the Year and has a career record of 112-54. This will be Walsh’s 12th season at his alma mater.
Robbinsville has won more NCHSAA football championships (13) than any program in Western North Carolina.
Note: A more complete preview of Robbinsville and other WNC football teams will be available in the Aug. 16 print edition of the Citizen-Times.