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JCHS, JCMS sees good things in spring practice

The JCHS Football Team recently finished spring practice and there were two big differences this year.
There was no Mark Jennings and no Austin Humphrey.
If the Longhorns are going to improve on a very hard-luck 2-8 season that saw JCHS lose many close games, they must replace two top-notch running backs.
Jennings and Humphrey combined for almost 2,000 yards and scored a bulk of the team's touchdowns.
The dynamic duo were capable of breaking long runs at any time.
The Longhorns are now searching for the next Humphrey or Jennings and they know that though those two shoes' can't be filled, they hope to find someone who can fill their roles.
“Our running game is going to have to get better,” JCHS head coach Mike Atwood said. “We're hurting at the skill positions. We need to improve the running game and at defensive back.”
One pleasant surprise in the spring has been how well junior quarterback Chase Kleine has adjusted to being the starter.
Kleine has thrown the ball well and has some running ability.
“Chase is able to move and he's able to throw the ball well on the run,” Atwood said. “He needs to make better decisions, but physically he's there.”
Back to the JCHS backfield, some of the players without a lot of experience at the high school level may be able to play there.
There are also a good crop of young players throughout the roster and they will threaten for playing time.
“We think our younger players are really going to help us,” Atwood said.
Standouts on the offensive and defensive lines include Connor Icenhour, Skylar Reece, Jordan Roark and Aaron Charsha.
The line looks like it will be a strong point for JCHS.
“Our defense is going to be more of a 3-5-3,” Atwood said. “We're looking for big things out of Connor and Skylar this year. Aaron Charsha and Jordan Roark also look good.
The receiving core looks improved this year with Ryan Mahala, Mikey Edington, Skylar Reece and Chris Stollings.
The linebacker core looks solid with Seth Little and Daniel Lester looking good in spring practice.
One thing JCHS is going to have to deal is trying to rebuild that winning attitude the Longhorns had in the late 2000s.
JCHS is trying to get things back on track following the footsteps of Jesse Atwood, Ryan Humphrey, Austin Phipps and Christian Prudhomme.
Atwood says the Longhorns are on their way to getting that swagger back.
“The morale is high,” Atwood said. “They know they played well enough to win four more ball games last year. We don't have a lot of seniors, but our morale is high.
Atwood was very pleased with how things turned out during the spring and he is looking forward to August.
“I'm pretty pleased with the effort,” Atwood said. “They have a willingness to work hard.”
JCMS REPORT
The JCMS Football Team also held spring practice over a two-week period in May and a good group of rising eighth graders came out and showed head coach Matt Bray what they had.
The Longhorns have sent a good chunk of last year's conference championship and region runner-up team on to the high school, meaning there will be a lot of new faces in this year's lineup.
Bray did like what he saw from this group during the two weeks of practice.
“I saw some some good things out of the returning eighth graders and also the new boys,” Bray said. “We had over 30 about every day and this is all eighth grade. We had some who had never played football before and some who had played before and they showed me some good things.
“I saw a lot of athletic ability, agility and we are lacking a little bit in the size department, but other than that I was pleased.”
Some of the eighth graders played last year while others are seeing action at the middle school level for the first time. Those who were a part of the magical season last year that JCMS had are hungry to get back to the championship game and to win it all again.
“It's helped bring more out who have never played before, but the returning guys are very happy to be back and when football season starts it's always like going home. You're back in your comfort zone. They showed me good things.”
Bray says spring practice is just the beginning of the season.
“It's kind of like a warm-up before practice, but I saw a lot of spirit and good work ethic,” Bray said. “A lot of my returning boys stuck it out last year and some of them didn't get to play that much and they stayed with us and hopefully they've improved enough where they can take over the lead because they've proven they can work hard.”
Bray says a lot of these players will be participating in “The Winning Edge” speed and agility camp that Adam Cranford does and others are going to lift weights.
“We start July 25 and hopefully we come ready to bring the helmet,” Bray said.