Nick Speed, Connor Simcox, Grinnan Walker and Aden Sluder share why they think this years football season will be successful. Photo by Beth Cox
By Beth Cox
Summer is about pool parties, vacations, or simply just lazy days. However, it’s a different story for the JCHS Longhorn football team.
Many players have devoted their summer break to football readiness on day one of the 2022-2023 season. Coach Don Kerley is ready for July 18, when he can get his guys on the field and start practice. The veteran coach is optimistic as he sees many returning talent and a very athletic group of freshmen players.
Last year was tough for the team. Each week seemed to bring on a new injury or another case of COVID-19. But enough of last year, these players are ready to play. Senior Aden Sluder is both valuable on the line, both offensively and defensively, and looking forward to this season.
“We have a lot of players that already have a lot of experience due to injuries and COVID from last year, this year, they will be so much better because of the playing time of last year,” Sluder said.
Kerley also feels good about what he sees in his team, “we have only four seniors, but they are strong. We have a lot coming back this year who got some good playing time last year, so that will definitely put us at an advantage going into the season,” he said. “Plus, these guys are good guys who work well with each other.” Kerley also looks to his quarterback, Connor Simcox, to lead his team.
“Connor is our leader,” Kerley said. “He’s been at it for two years now and knows what to do.”
As for Simcox, he is ready for the job. The junior quarterback has been working hard for his team.
“I am confident going into the season,” he said. “We have been hitting the weights a lot harder and going to football camps to prepare. We are also a unified team. We all work well together.”
Senior player Grinnan Walker definitely shares in the sentiment of Simcox, adding that he is excited to work with new assistant defensive coach and former App State Coach Rick Wilson.
“Coach has already shown us so much and taught us a lot,” Walker said. “I have also been fortunate to attend a few more camps with Aden and Connor, so I’m ready to go.” Senior Nick Speed is just ready for the 7-on-7 tournament in Hampton on July 11. “The 7 on 7 camp will show us a lot,” he said.
The Longhorns are working with weights and running right now, but the attitude and motivation are there to make this year’s football team stand out and win some games. The JCHS booster club will meet when school starts back, but Kerley wants all the young players to know the JCHS youth football camp will be on July 14. Contact Coach Don Kerley for more details.