Knights could be reloading
Fri. August 02, 2013 at 9:54 p.m. | By Mike Duprez
North Davidson’s special teams players practice kick-off coverage during practice Friday morning. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)
North Davidson lost 31 football players to graduation from a team that went 14-1 and reached the 4-A state semifinals, so one might expect the Black Knights to be rebuilding in 2013.
Mark Holcomb welcomed 120 players with the formal start of practice on Thursday and the Knights have all the appearances of a team that is simply reloading, not falling back.
“It’s going good so far,” Holcomb said. “Got most of our special teams in, a lot of our offense and defense, a lot of our base stuff. So we’re making a lot of progress in a hurry.”
In reality, the Knights have been undergoing preparations for the season for several weeks with record amounts of players showing up for summer workouts and weight training.
Holcomb all along has sought to build a program at North and last season was a huge breakthrough as the Black Knights took an undefeated team into the state semifinals before falling 34-27 to Porter Ridge. The enthusiasm of that campaign carried right into the offseason and continued on through the summer.
“I think we’ve turned the corner in terms of what’s expected of the kids,” Holcomb said. “We averaged 85 kids at every summer workout. That’s really good. That’s more than we’ve ever had in the past at any time.”
While the Knights have a lot of spots to replace, they have some familiar names such as hulking defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, a junior who is being recruited by just about everyone. Among the schools already offering Tuttle is two-time defending national champion Alabama. Also back are linebacker Mason Hicks and offensive lineman Nick Wimmer.
But even more importantly to Holcomb are the players who weren’t necessarily starters but still got in significant playing time, including some call-ups from the junior varsity. Some of them will step into starting roles.
“You hear people talk about how many starters are back,” Holcomb said. “We had a lot of guys played last year in a lot of different situations.”
Holcomb said he is carrying about 70 on varsity right now and 50 on JV.
With more starters back on defense that unit is ahead of the offense in terms of progression but there is a lot of potential on that side of the ball. Khylil Miller, a junior, is the front runner at quarterback after being in the secondary last season. Also in the mix is Brandon McCray, a transfer from Parkland.
“Khylil has had a really good summer weight room-wise,” Holcomb said. “As far as experience-wise, some people may forget that Khylil was our starting JV quarterback as a freshman. We feel good about his progress and Brandon’s progress, too.”
The Knights could be loaded at running back with former JV quarterback Kennedy McKoy along with Isaiah Koontz and Xavier Baker, a pair of transfers from Lexington. Koontz ran for 352 yards and four touchdowns as a backup last season.
North opens its season at home on Aug. 23 against Thomasville.
Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.