The Smithville Seminoles won’t have a lack of playmakers this season as they return all their players at the skill positions.
Smithville brings back a senior quarterback, running back and five wide receivers, all fresh off a run to the North half championship game last season.
“Having those skill guys that really know the system, and it’s year three for them, it helps us and makes it easy on us,” Smithville coach Michael Campbell said. “We go out there Day 1, and they already know most of the stuff. We just have to fine-tune it. We’re skill heavy, and they have a lot of reps under their belts so we’re looking forward to what they can do. We’re going to have to get the ball to them in space and let them try to make plays.”
The Seminoles’ offense begins with seniors Octavion Miller at quarterback and Jabril Smith at running back.
The duo combined to rush for 2,415 yards and 39 touchdowns last season.
“Octavion has progressed a lot over the summer. He’s becoming more sure about his reads and his throws and learning different throws and things like that. Last year was great for him, and he’s maturing,” Campbell said. “Jabril had a great year, and he really turned it on at the end too. He learned to run behind his pads, which really helped him.”
Blake Williams, a junior whose primary position is linebacker, will also see time in the backfield.
All five wide receivers coming back are seniors with Landon McMellon and Will Reeves in the slot and Jamarcus Walton and Beau Stevens out wide. Dyllan Moffett can play in either spot.
The offensive line will be a spot the Noles will be looking for some younger players to step up after losing Layne Williams and Cole Hughey.
Senior Cameron Payne, junior C.J. Hallman and sophomore Dayton Hipps all saw time on the line last season. Junior Dayton Hitt will fill the other tackle spot, while sophomores Bo Harlow and Drew Gideon are competing for the center spot.
“That’s what we really have to work on this year because we lost three starters, and we’re going to be thin there anyway so we have to make sure we stay healthy,” Campbell said. “We’re small so we’re going to have to get the ball out quick and play fast. That’s something we’re used to doing.”
On the defensive line, 6-foot-3, 320-pound senior J.D. Strevel is a presence in the middle.
“He’s gotten a lot of attention the last few years, just a big body in the middle right there,” Campbell said. “He plays really fast and moves really well for a big guy.”
The plan is to rotate guys at the other two spots on the line, including Payne, Hallman, Hitt, Gideon, Harlow and sophomore Quinn Johnson.
At linebacker, senior Jordan Wardlaw and junior Blake Williams are the strength on the outside, where they combined for 167 tackles and 14 sacks.
“It’s hard to run outside on us with those two guys,” Campbell said. “Jordan is a guy who really leads us. He’s a quiet leader, but he does everything right and everything you ask him to do. He shuts down his side on defense, and on offense, he can come in and play any position really.”
Moving to inside linebacker to replace Layne Williams and Tucker Hood are Chandler Woodham and Ryan Christian.
The secondary is all returning starters. Campbell called Smith at strong safety the captain of the defense. McMellon will rotate at free safety along with senior Taylor Tipton. Reeves and Moffett return at cornerback.
McMellon will handle kicking extra points, and he and Walton both can take care of kickoffs.
Replacing Hood as the punter is a hole to fill, but Campbell has confidence in sophomore Tyler Lann.
McMellon, Reeves and Moffett can all return kicks.
“We want to focus on stopping kickoff returns because we want to make sure we don’t give up kickoff return touchdowns this year,” Campbell said.