Updated Thu, Aug 15, 2013 11:36 am
Editor’s Note: Three-Point Stance is Gridiron Glory’s written preview series leading up to its 15th season on WOUB. Gridiron is visiting training camps for all 32 teams in the coverage area as they prepare for the 2013 football season. The series continues in the TVC-Hocking, where eight teams look to dethrone a defending state champ.
Last year the Southern Tornadoes ended their season with a conference record of 4-4. This time around, coach Kyle Wickline’s team plans on combining speed, power and hard work through the offseason to prove it can contend in the TVC-Hocking.
Here are three things to know about the 2013 Southern Tornadoes:
1. Big Play Ability
The Tornadoes’ offensive line is full of experienced seniors who have started together since freshman year, something they plan to use their advantage. Coach Wickline has his team working hard on improving its big play ability. Getting a couple of quick players back from injury has greatly improved the Tornadoes’ overall speed from last year and will help them make the crucial plays that turn the tide of a football game.
Southern turns to third-year starting tailback and linebacker Tyler Barton, who looks to fill the shoes he made for himself last year by rushing for over 1,000 yards and leading his team in tackles. He has worked to improve in the offseason by lifting weights and gaining 30 pounds while keeping his speed.
“(Barton) is going to be someone that we are going to lean heavily on,” Wickline said. The Tornados also look to Trenton Deem, their leading receiver and second leading rusher last year, to make plays on offense.
2. Team Defense
On the defensive side of the ball, Southern is working to use the momentum it built at the end of last season, when the players began to fully understand their roles.
“We started understanding our assignments and playing more team defense instead of one person trying to make all the plays,” Wickline told Gridiron reporters at practice. “They started to catch on that they needed the guy beside them, needed the guy behind them and they needed the guy in front of them. We try to create the team aspect on the defensive side.”
The Tornadoes won three of their last four games in 2012, holding opponents to just 12 points per game and earning their biggest win of the season at Eastern in Week 10. The Southern defense will attempt to build on those successes moving forward.
3. An Unbreakable Bond
Having a small team adds a lot of challenges for Southern, but it also gives them a crucial advantage in team chemistry. It forces the players to get to know each and every one of their teammates and know them better than they would if they had more depth on the bench. The fact that there are five sets of brothers on the team adds to the bond that the players have. When the Tornadoes win, they don’t only win as a team but more importantly as a family.
“When things get tough I think that bond will help them in the long run when it’s third-and-short or it’s fourth-and-goal in a tight game,” explained Wickline. “I think the bond and the things you want to do for the guy beside you will help them, and I think that is something that you will see out of these guys this year.”
Southern’s road to TVC-Hocking contention begins with an out of conference game to start the season, Aug. 30 at River Valley.
Follow @gridironglory on Twitter and Instagram and Like the Gridiron Glory Facebook page for continued coverage throughout the preseason. Gridiron Glory returns Friday, Aug. 23 at 11:30 p.m. on WOUB.