THE SKINNY: The Mayflower Eagles, after a highly successful 7-on-7 campaign during the summer, are prepared to spread things out and go full throttle this season.
"We won seven of eight games at the Elite 7 at Shilon and everybody we beat were a lot bigger schools," said coach Jed Davis. "But I told the team, ‘it’s just 7 on 7.’ We have to do it on the field this season."
And it’ll be at a fast pace with one of the most high-powered offenses the Eagles have had in recent years.
"We’re gonna be rolling and winging it — five-wide 70 percent of the time," said Davis. "We’re excited because we have good upperclassmen leadership and a talented group of underclassmen."
OFFENSE: The Eagles (4-7 a year ago but a Class 3A playoff team) have a double-barreled situation at quarterback.
Returning at quarterback is sophomore Adam Dycus, who passed for 3,000 yards in junior high last season before being elevated to the varsity for the Episcopal Collegiate game. He passed for 372 yards and five touchdowns in his first high school start.
Also returning is junior Jordan Burns, who was an all-conference quarterback two years ago before sitting out last season to concentrate on baseball.
"It’s both a good problem and a major headache," said Davis. "It’s been a battle. Each quarterback is a little different and does different things well. I really don’t see a dropoff with either one in there."
Daniel Geiber (one of the strongest players on the team), Madison Chambliss, Garrett Tayl;or and Josh Woodham are the top outside receiver. The Eagles have a veteran offensive line led by juniors Jordan Graves, Trey Bradley and Wesley Black and senior Chad Hollis.
DEFENSE: Hollis, Josh Sutton and Cullen Dunn offer more speed at end while tackle Richard McDaniel has been moved to defense and should be a presence there.
Brandon Forrester, the team’s top defensive player last season, leads the linebacking corps supported by Geiber, Wesley Neal, Tyler Roberts and Triston Clements. Safety Bradley Chambliss is a leader in the secondary.
KEY QUESTIONS: Can the defense hold up to complement a high-powered offense? Can the Eagles establish enough of a running game to complement their skill people?
YOU MAY NOT KNOW: The Eagles have a capable kicking specialist in senior Matthew Post, who booted a 37-yard field goal last season against Marianna, Mayflower’s first field goal in more than a decade.
Last season, the Eagles tried an onside kick after every kickoff. "This year, we can kick it in the end zone," Davis said. "We’ll still use the onside kick, but we’ll be able to pick our spots."
THE CONFERENCE: Bald Knob and Perryville replace Arkansas Baptist and Brinkley as new members of 2-3A. Perennial power Harding Academy is the favorite but Barton is projected as a strong challenger.
DON’T MISS: The Eagles open Friday at home against Dumas. If you like offensive fireworks, this could be the game.