“I thought the biggest thing we wanted to do down there against a team like them was to be physical and come out and try to establish the line of scrimmage,” Jenkins said. “And I thought we did. We had a 12-play, 79-yard drive, and 11 of the 12 were runs. We just came up a little short down there, but I thought, all in all, we played just as physically as they did.
By Trey Williams
Daniel Boone took its licks while going 1-9 last season, and now it’s eager for physical therapy.
Coach Jeremy Jenkins begins his 13th season in Gray with a new offense and a new quarterback, but many familiar faces on the large bodies manning the offensive and defensive lines.
They were front and center during a physical quarter-long scrimmage against Mountain East Conference preseason favorite Morristown West during the league jamboree Friday in Morristown. Boone came up short on the scoreboard, but gained confidence. West had been especially impressive in its previous scrimmages.
“Of course, they’ve got some really good athletes and we hadn’t seen a lot of that offense they’re running, but we’ll try to get a hold on that. They’re a quality team with a good quarterback and I thought our kids stood toe to toe.”
Boone’s offensive line is led by guard Justin Turner (6-4, 245, Sr.) and center Christian Bowman (6-4, 310, Sr.), each of whom has generated college interest.
“Turner’s a three-year starter for us in the offensive line,” Jenkins said. “He’ll play some defense as well. He’s really the person up front there that the kids kind of look to.”
Guard Bailey Presnell (6-3, 290, Jr.) is an intriguing prospect and Jenkins has been pleased with tackles Drew Thompson (5-9, 185, Jr.) and Walker Burleson (5-9, 185, Jr.). Justin Clark (6-3, 215, Sr.) could start at tight end or tackle, but Jenkins wants him fresh on the defensive front, where Austin Cox (6-4, 320, So.) should help anchor the line.
Jenkins is 72-58 at Boone. Coaches in the region often offer his staff unsolicited praise.
That said, going 1-9 was jarring, and Jenkins has installed a new shotgun-oriented offense that Jesse Taylor and Ethan Good will coordinate.
“I think the biggest thing is just the use of the one-back (formations) and not a lot of two-back unless it’s short yardage or something like that,” Jenkins said. “We’re just trying to get the ball in space quickly to our athletes.”
Mouin Tannous (5-9, 175, Sr.) has had arguably the most impressive fall camp among skill players.
“Mouin Tannous has really stepped up as far as being an offensive weapon for us,” Jenkins said. “We can use him in the backfield and at the wide receiver. Mason Mounger (5-9, 175, Jr.) would be the next one at running back that’s stepped forward in the last two scrimmages and the jamboree.”
Senior Justin Carter (6-0, 190), a menacing linebacker, is an effective power back, and freshman running back Charlie Cole (6-0, 210) already packs a wallop.
Junior Noah Shelton (6-4, 190), who finished fifth in the state in the high jump, will take over at quarterback.
“Being the first time under the lights,” Jenkins said, “I thought Noah really played well (against Morristown West). … There’s a lot of potential there.”
His top targets should include Jake Chandler (6-1, 185, Sr.), CJ Carter (5-11, 175, Jr.), Duncan Buchanan (5-10, 150, Sr.) and Tristan McKnight (5-7, 150, Sr.).
“I feel good about our skill kids,” said Jenkins, who noted this being Boone’s best collection in 5-6 years.
Boone opens with a tough non-conference game Thursday at Sullivan South. Former East Tennessee State All-Southern Conference offensive lineman Sam Haynie’s Rebels are led by quarterback Ethan Ward, who missed much of last season with a broken leg.
“He’s a catalyst for them in everything that they do,” Jenkins said, “and we’ve gotta do a good job of keeping him hemmed up and not letting him outside the pocket.”
Boone is eligible for the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, which enhances the turn-the-page motif after last season.
“Sometimes you’ve gotta hit bottom,” Jenkins said, “to get you going back where you’re supposed to.”