PONTOTOC • The Pontotoc Warriors football team will feature a multitude of new faces this season, but the skill positions have a solid foundation to build on.
On the offense, Pontotoc returns all of its receivers from last season, while also bringing back an experienced back up at running back.
Tres Vaughn, Caleb Hobson, Cade Armstrong and Peeko Townsend all return to the skill positions after combining for 1,963 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns last year.
In the Warriors’ backfield, Jemarkus Whitfield returns after two solid years in a backup role, including last season where he rushed for 234 yards and one touchdown on 39 carries. Townsend will also receive touches with Whitfield.
“We are really, really strong at wideout,” coach Jeff Carter said. “We have some real weapons outside and they look really good. All three of our quarterbacks can make the throws to those guys, it’s just a matter of if they will be able to do it in a game.”
Quarterback is the only offensive position that has no experience returning this year. Justin Carter, a two-year starter, graduated, so Pontotoc is working through some younger players to get the ball to the powerful receiving corps.
Freshman Conner Armstrong and sophomores Tanner Ellis and Brice Deaton are all fighting for the starting quarterback spot. Armstrong, who had 494 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year, could also see time at the position.
Vaughn, a 6-foot-3 threat at receiver who had 10 touchdowns last year, likes what he has seen from the young quarterbacks after a full week of practice.
“We are trying to get our quarterbacks down,” Vaughn said. “They’re all young so it’s just a learning process for them. Once they get it, we will be fine because we can all catch the ball well. It’s going to be fine.”
On defense, the linebacker crew took a hit, losing both inside linebackers, but Townsend (68 tackles, 5.5 sacks) and Jagr Austin (70 tackles, 3 sacks) both return as outside backers while the secondary returns experience in Hobson, Monte Townsend, D.J. Bean, and L.J. Jones plus others.
“The defense has been going great,” Peeko Townsend said. “I love to hit somebody. Me and Jagr are both back this season, so once we find out who is going to be the inside linebackers, we will be great.”
Pontotoc opens the season on Aug. 23 at Houston.