BRYANT HORNETS: Bryant looks for big season
August 26, 2012
The Bryant Hornets lost 25 seniors after their 8-3 season and a first-round loss in the playoffs in 2011, but coach Paul Calley said they expect even greater things this year.
“We’ve had some success in the last 10 years, but this year, we are taking things to a higher level and looking to go deeper in the playoffs.”
In the offseason, Bryant hired Lance Parker away from a school in Mississippi as the new offensive coordinator. Parker was a player for the Hornets in the early 2000s and played quarterback for Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
“We are not the same team we were offensively,” Calley said. “We are adding some new wrinkles. We are going to be doing a lot of things, and it will be hard for teams to prepare for us.”
Calley said his athletes have handled the changes well, but that getting everyone tuned in to the new plays might be hard in the early part of the season.
“We will be running on as many plays as we will be passing,” he said. “We want to get the ball into the hands of our skilled players more.”
The new offense will be in the hands of senior Hayden Lessenberry (5-11, 200).
“He has started since he was a sophomore,” Calley said. “He is a natural leader and understands the game.”
The coach said Lessenberry has the ability to hold the ball so the routes can development.
“He just has to make sure he doesn’t hold it too long,” Calley said.
Another player starting in his third year is Jalen Bell (5-8, 175), who rushed more than 500 yards and racked up more than 700 all-purpose yards as a junior.
“It is like having two quarterbacks on the team with Bell’s leadership,” Calley said. “It is a straight-ahead type of runner.”
The coach said he will also put Bell in as a receiver to find more ways to get him the ball.
Junior Jacob Irby (5-8, 160) will also move from running back to receiver.
“He is not very big, but he is very good,” Calley said. “He is more of a slasher, cutting type of runner.”
Reneard “K.J.” Hill (6-0, 180) and Brushawn Hunter (5-8, 160) are a couple of talented sophomores who will also have some time in the backfield, Calley said.
The coach said Hill “has all the tools to be great,” while he said Hunter has “exceptional speed and really good hands.”
Austin Power (5-10, 160), a senior, will lead the receiver corps, Calley said.
“He was a quarterback, and he understands coverages,” the coach said. “He was injured and has not had a lot of varsity time, but I expect him to be a major contributor.”
Senior Nate Rutherford (6-3, 225) returns at tight end.
“He started last year and has improved a lot,” Calley said. “He is a sure-handed receiver.
Junior Wesley Akers (6-0, 220) will be the H-back for the Hornets.
“He started as the backup quarterback, but we needed him to complete some personnel packages, and he played well last year,” the coach said. “We have another guy who can pass, protect and can help get everybody in the right spot in the different sets we have.”
Senior Ian Shuttleworth (6-2, 275) is an all-conference left tackle and also the punter for the Hornets. Calley said Shuttleworth could become a good college prospect after battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year.
Josh Lowry (5-11, 150), another of the 25 seniors on this year’s team, will take over as the kicker. Calley said he has a good leg and is pretty accurate out to 37 yards.
On the defense, Calley said, the team is strong and skilled, with Tim Kelley (6-2, 220) and Cordell Boykins (6-1, 230) as the defensive ends.
“They are both quick and intense,” Calley said. “We try to teach intensity, but those guys just have it naturally.”
Senior Cortez Williams (5-9, 250) is the nose guard. Calley said Williams is always ready to play and is great at reading the screen. Senior Jared Koon (5-10, 230) is good with his hands, the coach said.
Aaron Bell (5-10, 160) the twin brother to Jalen, will be on one corner. The coach said three players will compete for playing time at the other corner.
Junior Darian Jerrett (6-1, 165) has impressed the coach with his improvement, and two sophomores, Drew Tipton (5-7, 155) and Mark Nelson (5-7, 155), will get some playing time. Calley said that with a week to go before the season starts, he has 107 players on the team.
Bryant joins the 7A/6A South this year after having success in the 7A/6A Central.
“It will be refreshing to play some different teams, but I don’t expect any difference in the level of competition,” Calley said. “These teams may not have the depth we have, and that will give us an advantage.”