08/16/12 — FOOTBALL TAB - Spring Creek: Small in numbers, Gators working hard in "The Swamp"

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FOOTBALL TAB - Spring Creek: Small in numbers, Gators working hard in "The Swamp"

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 16, 2012 1:48 PM

There is no time to worry about who is not at practice. Spring Creek head coach Aaron Sanders is more concerned with who is in camp as the team gets ready for its season opener Friday night.

"We have 29 guys who are here and that is what we are going with," Sanders. "I would love to have more, but there is not much time to dwell on that because our staff has to get these guys ready to play."

As is almost always the case, the Gators will likely pick up a freshman or two once the school year starts. Those players will have to complete the required number of practices with and without pads before they can see game action.

Despite being short on bodies, the Gators are long on experience. Six starters from the 2011 team return on offense and five return on defense.

"We don't have a big number of seniors, but that doesn't mean our guys are inexperienced," Sanders said. "We have a lot of guys who are sophomores and juniors this year that have played significant varsity snaps over the past two years."

Spring Creek brings back three starting linemen from last year and boasts better strength than in years past due to an increased offseason workload in the weight room. The protection should help quarterback DeVante Faison and tailback Tre Hammonds find creases in the Gators' triple-option offense.

Hammonds, a rising sophomore, led the team in rushing a year ago and accounted for approximately half of the team's total yards from scrimmage.

"Those two guys are going to be a big part of what we do obviously," Sanders said. "But at the same time, we cannot afford to be two-dimensional. That means finding a couple of capable backs to take some carries as well as some receivers who can make plays."

Logan and Luke Miller will likely be called upon to handle the receiving duties. A trio of runners are battling through the final practice for the starting fullback job.

"Fullback is one position where we have multiple guys who are capable," Sanders said. "All three bring something different to the table and each one can play when called upon."

On the defensive side of the ball, the Gators' coaching staff has been stressing discipline and execution while trying to develop depth. One of the team's top priorities in the opening weeks of the season is going to be putting players in position to make plays.

It's the players' job to make the tackle.

"It sounds too simple to say tackling is the key to defense," Sanders said. "But knowing your assignment and making a good fundamental tackle are what make teams great. You don't have to do anything extraordinary, but you do have to do the ordinary things better than your opponent."

Spring Creek opens the season at South Lenoir on Friday. The Gators begin Carolina 1-A Conference play at home Sept. 28 against Princeton.