Football: Atascocita hopes veteran team repeats as undefeated district champ

May 5, 2019

Atascocita head coach Craig Stump doesn’t need to be reminded about what his team will be like in the fall.

Stump keeps coming back to the No. 17.

“We’ve got 17 guys coming back so the competitive level is there,” Stump said. “We have a lot of intensity and returners. We try to compete in spring practice every day — that’s the whole point of spring training. We’re sharpening those guys who started last year, and we’re trying to find out who can actually play.”

Atascocita opened spring practice on April 23, and on Tuesday the Eagles had their third practice in pads. The spring game will be held on May 17.

This spring will be a time for the Eagles to retain knowledge from last season and evaluate the players on the team.

“We have those certain spots that we’re still trying to find out,” Stump said. “Guys can look good in shorts and a T-shirt running around, but in the spring, we’re able to put them in situations. You get to see how they react putting them into a different situation at practice.”

The Eagles made it to the regional semifinals last season for the fourth straight year after ending the season at 11-2.

So far, the Eagles have progressed during spring practice, but the competition has heated up, he said.

“We have a lot of intensity with the returners and the competitive level is there,” Stump said. “Every day we want to make sure our guys are in competition out here. Every day is a day where we can get better.”

Some starters back are wide receivers Dylan Robinson, Darius Edmonds Landen King and Keith Wheeler II. Jermarques Bailey along with Kam Dewberry, who started on the offensive line as a freshman, are back to anchor the line.

Quarterback Brice Matthews and running back Quincy Thompson will also return.

On defense, linebacker David Tuihalangingie is back along with defensive lineman Asyrus Simon and cornerback Taylen Blaylock.

“Those guys that we know are returners and starters, we’re making sure they’re progressing because they’re high school players. They aren’t a finished product ever,” Stump said. “Then (it’s about) finding out and identifying those other players that will have role in the fall.”

Stump would like to see the Eagles stay aggressive to close out the spring strong.

“We want execution from the younger guys,” Stump said. “We just want everyone coming out here every day and working hard. We want them working out and lifting weights during the athletic period and coming out here hitting and competing with a lot of energy. That’s what spring ball is all about. We don’t want to have any dull days.”