‘Canes finish first spring practice under Wells
Morristown East quarterback Devin Young throws a screen pass during the Hurricanes’ first spring scrimmage against Sullivan South Monday afternoon.
With his first spring practice as Morristown East’s head football coach now completed, Dewayne Wells is optimistic as he talks about the Hurricanes of 2014 and what they were able to accomplish in the last two weeks.
Despite the fact he had little time to prepare for the spring, not being named to replace the departed Dwayne Hatcher until April 21, and also the fact that a bunch of key players were missing, Wells felt his club made the best of what they had available.
“I think there are a lot of things that come into play in spring practice,” said the coach. “You have limited opportunities to go out with 10 days and two scrimmages. Then you have so many kids involved in spring sports. We had kids running track and also playing soccer and baseball, so we had a lot of people missing.”
However, Wells said that part works out pretty well in a spring setting. “You get a chance to take a look at a lot of young kids, especially the upcoming 10th-graders to see where they’re going to fit into our scheme on both sides of the ball.
“Also, we were short some coaches but we were able to fill that in on a temporary basis with freshman coaches.”
When asked how much he felt the Hurricanes accomplished, he said, “Again, you’re very limited when you don’t have all your playmakers out there.”
“So, what we wanted to do was work on our offensive line and look at some younger kids and develop them.
“We were able to look at them and our goal was to try and identify some young ones who we feel can step up in the fall and give us some depth particularly along the front on both sides of the ball.”
Quarterback Devin Young and running back Frank Rogers were the two main offensive cogs that were available for the spring. “We feel like Devin is developing at quarterback and has to continue to get better. He has to be a leader on the offensive side of the ball. Frank will be back there at running back along with Chris (Logan). And I think our receivers will be in good hands mostly with the kids we have running track right now.”
The coach said he was pleased with the fact that “I saw a lot of carry over from last year on the defense. I feel good about that group with the question mark there being the defensive line. I want to have eight guys up there that can play with four ends and four tackles, and we still haven’t gotten to that point yet. I think we will have depth at linebacker and our secondary could be really good.”
Wells had nearly 80 players in the spring and expects to be in the mid-80’s when fall practice begins in July.
“I’ve seen a lot of development in the younger kids and that really pleases me. I think when we get all our personnel in there it will be a lot smoother. When we get everyone, we’ll be more multiple than we were this spring.”
Wells said, “Last year, we were a big play offense and that’s nice. But we want to be able to go out there this year and be able to slow it down when we need to or speed it up when we want to. We haven’t had a chance to work on that in the spring. We’ve been very basic and working to get the offensive line ready.
“But we saw things in the spring that Devin can do as far as being a threat running the ball as well as throwing it. We wanted to put him in some pressure situations to see how he handled it and we’ve definitely done that. In the scrimmage against Sullivan South I think they brought at least six people on every play.”
The football part of the coaching transition hasn’t been as difficult for Wells as other parts have been such as his number of classes taught and other responsibilities at school. “I don’t really have any time off. But that part will be over soon and my teaching schedule will change when school starts back.”
The coach feels his team will use last year’s 10-2 season as motivation. “After having a good year last year, our kids are excited and looking forward to this season.
“We’ve talked about expectations and about taking ownership and being accountable for their part of the success of our football team. You know, you ask anybody if they want to win and they’ll tell you yes But the real question is are you willing to do the things that will prepare you to win. That’s what we want them to do.”
Wells has filled out his coaching staff with the hiring of Caleb Ingram and Wes Johnson. Ingram is a Carson-Newman graduate and helped during the spring and will be the defensive line coach. Johnson, who will work with running backs, is coming from McNairy Central and will be available when summer workouts begin.
Besides those spots the staff will break down with Wells as defensive coordinator and linebackers, Jason Dean will be the offensive coordinators and work with offensive linemen while Derrick Folsom will work with defensive backs and Charlie Cole will coach quarterbacks.
-By Derwin Helton, Tribune Sports Writer