Aberdeen quarterback Jermaine Strong is going into his third year as a starter.

The Aberdeen Bulldogs found their depth tested in their spring game loss to New Hope but third-year coach Alex Williams liked the effort his team showed in playing a 5A team.

“We have gotten the playing hard thing down, but we can’t sustain it if we don’t have any depth. I definitely thought we played hard, and it’s hard competing against a 5A school like we were,” Williams said. “Our guys just lined up and played defense after they finished playing offense. We have to do a better job of getting some of our key guys like Jenari Bell and Jayden Walker some breaks.”

With missing the spring last season, Williams said he found some diamonds in the rough this year, including defensive lineman Kobe Williams.

“We found some players we didn’t know we were going to have, and we found them late in spring practice and they showed up in the game,” Williams said. “Kobe (Williams) at nose guard dominated on the defensive line when he was fresh. We just have to do a better job of conditioning and keeping guys fresh. It’s why I hate playing bigger schools because they have the luxury of running a fresh 11 guys out there, and we don’t.”

One hole the Bulldogs have been working on filling in spring is at running back, where they lose both Johnathan Moore and Xavier Young.

Two players that could help carry the load will be Jeffery Sykes and Chris Holliday.

“It hurts losing those two because that’s no experience coming back there, and we will definitely be running back by committee,” Williams said. “Jeffery ran the ball hard, and Chris did pretty well at times. We have to have three or four guys touching the ball in that positions, and we don’t want to run our quarterback, Jermaine (Strong) into the ground.”

Strong is coming into his second year as the starter, and Williams said he had high expectations throughout the spring for him and wide receiver T.J. Fields.

“T.J. had a real good spring, mabye not a real good spring game, but he’s going to be a guy that will have to touch the ball 10-12 times on screen passes, down the field passes. If we can get a few more receivers, we could be pretty good,” Williams said. “We have to find another go-to guy. Jermaine had a good spring but hasn’t quite progressed the way I want as far as throwing, which is my fault. I haven’t been able to coach him the way we should with just three coaches, so he and I are going to do a lot of one-on-one work this summer with footwork and how to throw certain balls. Once we get everything together for him, hopefully he will progress that way.”

The Bulldogs plan on being active during the summer with 7-on-7, which Williams hopes will help with Strong’s development and with finding more receivers.

“If we find some receivers that we can throw some deep passes to, we could scare some people,” he said. “I think we should be pretty strong on defense because they have more confidence in that system. We changed some things up on offense, so we will have to lean on our defense until it comes along. I think 7-on-7 will make Jermaine more comfortable. He climbed up in the pocket some in the spring game when he could have sidestepped some guys. He got impatient and missed some deep balls to T.J., but he’s still an athlete and hard to contain. His mindset is he’s the best guy to have the ball in his hands, and for the most part that’s worked out for us.”

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