“We were in every ballgame at some point. We finished 3-7 and could have easily been 7-3 or 8-2. We have yet with this group found that finish mentality. If we get behind, we kind of drop our heads. We've just got to figure out a way to change that like it used to be around here. When we got behind, it didn't matter.”
- Richard White, Dadeville head coach
Dadeville’s story for 2018 was close but no cigar. With another season now in sight, the offense is eager to come out on fire this fall.
In order to change the pace from last season, the Tigers have to settle in a new quarterback. Slade McCullers’ graduation has opened the door for sophomore Lane Smith, who has never taken a varsity snap. Dadeville head coach Richard White’ main objective is getting Smith comfortable so coming through at game time just comes naturally.
Luckily for Smith, he has no shortage of receivers to target.
The Tigers return some of their surest targets in the passing game, with Jamarion Wilkerson, Cooper Childers, Jamauri Chislom and Alex Sims being back for 2019. Their experience is sure to be an asset for Smith, particularly in his first few games as the starter.
“Anytime you have experienced receivers with a new quarterback, it's going to help,” White said. “He's got to know his responsibilities. He's got to know his reads. He's got to recognize defenses and that sort of thing. I think the more we work with him — he's a smart kid and very athletic.
“We've got to get him to understand that we can't press. You've just got to let the game flow and do what he can do.”
White is particularly concerned with keeping Smith upright. The Tigers are in the middle of musical chairs on the offensive line, though the position group does return three starters from 2018.
While there are few sure things in football, the Tigers appear to have quite the pass-rushing tandem on their hands.
White is counting on Jamauri Chislom and Max McClendon to provide constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Between the two will be defensive tackle Andre’vious Giles, a player whom White sees as a potential run stuffer. Conditioning remains a priority for Giles and could determine how big of a role he plays this season.
Sims, who has filled several roles for Dadeville, is the team’s only returning linebacker from last year. Like Sims, cornerback Josh Taylor is the only returning starter to the secondary. Several players are getting looks alongside Taylor, including Wilkerson at safety.
“He's about 6-2, 175 pounds. He's an athletic kid — we've just got to keep working with him because he didn't play any defense at all last year,” White said. “We've got to get him to recognize what we're trying to do offensively and to get to the football.
“Secondary wise, we've got a bunch of young kids that I'm playing musical chairs with them, trying to figure out the best combination.”