New Cougars add depth

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Escambia Academy Cougars are preparing to field the largest team they had since Heath Gibson has been head coach at the AISA school.|Photo by Chandler Myers

Depth is a large part of fielding a successful football team and coaching a small school has its disadvantages with fielding a team large enough to be deep in certain positions.

That lack of depth is something that Escambia Academy head football coach Heath Gibson looks to tackle head on as he has added some new faces to his team during summer workouts.

The Cougars have picked up four players for the varsity squad bringing the team’s total to 37 players from ninth through 12th grade.

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The newcomers are seniors Brian Ross and Bryant Lambert, junior Harold Harrison and freshman Brett Gorum.

Ross and Lambert are both offensive and defensive linemen who will have the chance to pick the Cougars up beginning in the team’s first game, Gibson said.

“I know that the two linemen Bryant and Brian will have an immediate impact because we are not as deep on the line as we are in other spots,” he said. “We struggled on the line last year and they are two really big bodies who can move.”

Gaining the four players that have joined the Cougars’ football team gives the team a chance to compete at higher level.

The summer pick ups are important to help put the Cougars in the best chance to face their opponents, Gibson said.

“It’s big because we carry such a low number of students compared to other schools,” he said. “We pick up these kids is key because it really helps our program excel to the next level. Every year, we pick up at least five kids who really contribute to our football team, and this year, we already have four, so that’s ahead of our pace.”

For the last several years, the Cougars have been suiting up players from the seventh grade all the way through 12th grade, but this year allows the team to do something different.

The players and coaches at EA are excited to have a high number of football players in the high school to be able to focus on carrying just ninth through 12, Gibson said.

“As far as being ninth through 12th graders and having 37 players that is a big number for us,” he said. “In the past, we had to take seventh through 12th graders to have our numbers up, but being able to carry just ninth through 12th is exciting.”

Even with four players picked up so far, the increase in players could continue through this month.

Towards the end of the month, the Cougars normally see additional players join the team, Gibson said.

“We have had several kids call and express interest in coming out here and playing football,” he said. “They are looking at the school trying to make their decision, but we could have a surge in July and pick up a few extra kids before practice or the season starts.”

With so many new players coming to the team, it will allow more players to take the field and give starters a chance to catch their breath.

The depth on the team growing will help the Cougars in places where they are short players, Gibson said.

“It’ll help tremendously,” he said. “Especially picking up the two linemen because we are so deep in skill positions, but not up front where we need guys.”