A week after they were scheduled to open the 2017 football season, the Bryant Hornets freshman team will take the field for the first time tonight at Cabot North, jumping right into a Central Arkansas Junior High Conference battle.
The Bryant White Hornets eighth grade team of Bryant Middle School will play their Cabot North counterparts at 5:30 p.m., with the freshman game commencing around 7.
The Hornets’ game against Little Rock Fair, set for Thursday, Aug. 31, was forfeited by the War Eagles who didn’t have enough players to field a team.
Though it hasn’t been the same players, obviously, with one group of freshmen coming through at a time, Bryant is riding a 17-game winning streak (18 if you count last week’s forfeit) after going undefeated last season. Hornets teams have won three consecutive conference championships while accumulating a record of 28-2.
So, the 2017 version has quite a bit to live up to.
“We’re looking to try to win as many as we can,” said Kenny Horn, beginning his 10th season as the freshman head coach. “Try to get better and just keep moving on.
“We’ve got a lot of guys, 90 again,” he noted. “We’ve got a lot of skill guys. We’re kind of thin on linemen but the ones that we have are not bad. If we can keep that depth on the line all year long, we should be alright with the amount of skill guys we have.
“We’ve got a lot of fast guys,” the coach related. “I think this year, we’ve got a good chance to be very good on defense and I think we’ve got a chance to be good on offense too, with all those guys.”
As for strategy, Horn related, “You know we like to throw it so we’re going to try to throw it, probably, a little bit more than we did last year. I’d like to. But we’ve got some guys that can run the football too. We’re going to try to be balanced, best we can.”
Defensively, he said, “Our linebackers are really fast. I feel like our defensive backs are really fast. I think our linemen are pretty fast. We’ve got some guys that athletic-type linemen and not necessarily the traditional big guy. We should be able to move around a little bit defensively.”
Regarding personnel on defense, Horn listed Rodrigo Martin, a transfer from Pine Bluff, and Baker Gray at the ends.
Of the interior duo, he said, “We’re going to have a rotation. Right now, Jimyle Harris and Abram Montoya are two of our bigger guys. At the other spot, we’re probably going to use as just a group effort to try to keep the guys fresh for offense as well.”
At linebacker, he mentioned, LaQuav Brumfield, Connor Coleman and Hart Penfield.
In the secondary, initially it’ll be a combination of Garrett Wilson, Noah Davis, Ty Bahnks, Omari Coats and Austin Schroeder.
“We’ve got a little bit of depth there,” the coach noted. “All those guys are good technique guys and they can move.”
Turning to the offense, Horn said he’s got four guys that can play at quarterback led by Austin Ledbetter. Wilson, Aiden Adams and Jackson Lindsey are in the mix as well.
“All four of them are pretty good guys,” the coach said. “And all four would be pretty good quarterbacks.”
River Gregory heads up the running back corps. At receiver, Horn listed Hayden Schrader, Adams, Blaine Sears, Schroeder and Xavier Foote as the rotation of players to start the season.
“All those guys are pretty fast,” he said. “We’ve just got a slew of guys that can run routes and are not bad catching the football and can run a little bit.
“We feel like we’ve got a lot of stuff we can do,” the coach added. “We’re going to try to exploit that. We can even use Connor Coleman some on offense as well as Hart Penfield. We’ve just got to try to figure out what works best for us right now and having not played a game, we’re kind of behind the eight ball a little bit, more so than anybody else. So we’ve got to try to find it quicker.”
Up front, Will Hathcote, Parker Elswick, Braden Robinson, Jack Powell, Victor Gaspar and Justin Orender are in the mix for playing time.
“There’s no way to ease into a Cabot game,” Horn said. “It is what it is, a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust-type thing. It’s hard to prepare for it without having played last week. We’re going to be that much further behind.
“We’ve got a good group of guys,” he asserted. “They worked hard all spring, worked hard all summer. Hopefully, we can get all that jelled up and get us a good season going.”
Horn is assisted by Guy Brown, John Orr and Blake Ratliff.