Jackets have a lot of weapons on offense
Forest Hills is looking for rejuvenation as a football team after its first losing season since 2004.
The Yellow Jackets didn’t finish the 2013 season strong. They lost to rival Monroe 40-0 in the regular season finale, and after taking a forfeit in the first round of the playoffs, were finished off by conference rival Parkwood (17-7) in the second round.
The Yellow Jackets drew inspiration from their down year, with more than one player saying the offseason commitment was ramped up.
They goal on offense is to slow the game down.
“We have to possess the football,” said FH coach John Lowery. “We want to use time on the clock. In the past we might be on the field for 30 seconds on offense and then we’re off the field. We’re going to try to use the clock more. We’ll use those backs to help do that.
“The biggest thing is we still have some things to learn about different fronts that come at you from an offensive standpoint. We’re asking our running backs to block a lot more than we have in the past. We’ve missed some assignments but that’s why you have scrimmages to work on that. ...”
With the Yellow Jackets looking to become a ball-control offense, the offensive line will get a chance to attack the defense.
The starting five for the Jackets is a hulking group averaging just over 6-1 and 260 pounds.
Lowery’s biggest concern heading into the 2014 season is a lack of depth on the line. He plans to start two linemen — Kendall Rushing and Trenton Chambers — both ways.
“We’re going to be able to spell them some,” Lowery said. “We can change formations and stuff to get rest for those bigs. Once the season gets going into the middle of the year, it gets cooler and that’s not as big a factor. The kids have worked hard to get in shape. They did well in a long scrimmage. We feel pretty good about that right now.”
The Jackets were hit hard by injuries last year, so Lowery is hoping they’re due some good health.
Running back CJ Carelock, who missed last year with an ACL injury, will play fullback and tailback. Carelock is a bruiser (6-1, 215) with speed while the 175-pound LouAllen is shifty.
“The kid runs really hard and has good hips,” Lowery said of LouAlllen. “He makes people miss. … We have a lot of good kids that can run in the backfield.”
Senior Tyler White had 14 receptions for 125 yards and also gained 165 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in 2013.
Opposite White is junior Jordan Blakeney, who nine receptions for 54 yards.
Lowery is expecting to see those numbers jump this season.
“Blakeney and White both have great hands and great speed,” Lowery said. “We can throw the ball down the field to them and they can get open. We believe if we can run the football then we are going to open up the passing game. That has been our scheme and the kids have bought into it. It worked well in the scrimmage so we’ll see how it does.”
The Yellow Jackets’ top returning receiver isn’t playing receiver this year.
Forest Hills junior Zaceheus Rorie will take over full-time under center after rotating between receiver and QB as a sophomore.
Rorie completed 21 of 53 passes as a sophomore for 314 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He also caught 16 passes for 166 yards and rushed for 121 yards on 24 carries.
“The biggest thing for him is he is a good athlete,” Lowery said of Rorie. “He has a strong arm and he is a good runner. We’re going to run him. He isn’t going to watch. You put good athletes into position to perform and that’s what we’re doing with him.”
The Jackets only topped 30 points twice in 2013, but believe they have more weapons on offense this year.
The defensive line will be a revolving door for the Yellow Jackets.
Defensive tackles Chambers and Rushing are the only two-way starters listed for the Yellow Jackets.
While those two combined to weigh over 500 pounds, the ends flanking them at end don’t come to 400 combined — senior Crishon Carelock weighs in at 170 pounds while junior Elijah Williams is 180.
“We’re going to have some quick people there that can get up the field,” Lowery said of his defensive ends. “We’re going to do a lot of blitzing. We’re going to blitz, dart, stunt and we’re going to do a lot of things with those outside linebackers and inside linebackers. It should take care of the size problem.”
Junior outside linebacker Kendrick Barrino has taken over as the vocal leader for the Yellow Jackets’ defense; he had 40 tackles as a sophomore.
AJ Allen is opposite Barrino at OLB. Allen and Barrino will also play in the offensive backfield.
The middle will be manned by senior Tim Howard, who recorded 94 tackles as a junior, while sophomore Tyrese Marsh will be making his debut on varsity.
“(Barrino) is a very athletic kid and we expect him to keep the guys on that side humping and paying attention to what’s going on,” Lowery said. “These guys bring speed and quickness. Those outside linebackers can play safety. They would be great safeties, we just decided to go with a 4-4 look. They can play man on receivers or come down hill. We’re going to use their athleticism to help us. We feel real confident about them.”
The Jackets have an all-senior secondary, including cornerbacks Montrell Kirkland and Montrell Tillman along with safety DeMichael Cuthbertson.
All three gained experience last year.
“The biggest thing for them to do is not get beat deep,” Lowery said. “We don’t want to give up cheap throws. They complement each other in that aspect. They know they have solid help underneath them.”
Forest Hills opens the regular season a week from today (Aug. 22) with a home game against Anson County.
Forest Hills’ Projected Starters
Forest Hills’ 2014 schedule
Aug. 22^vs. Anson
Aug. 29^at Weddington
Sept. 5^at Central Pageland
Sept. 12^vs. Piedmont
Sept. 19^at Cuthbertson
Sept. 26^at North Rowan
Oct. 10^vs. Mt. Pleasant
Oct 17^at Parkwood
Oct. 24^at West Stanly
Oct. 31^vs. Central Academy
Nov. 7^vs. Monroe
Forest Hills’ 2013 results (6-7, 4-1 RRC)
Anson 33, Forest Hills 20
Weddington 42, Forest Hills 12
Central Pageland 35, Forest Hills 14
Piedmont 49, Forest Hills 35
Forest Hills 57, Cuthbertson 28
North Rowan 34, Forest Hills 7
Forest Hills 21, Mt. Pleasant 16
Forest Hills 56, Parkwood 25
Forest Hills 29, West Stanly 20
Forest Hills 16, Central Academy 14
Monroe 40, Forest Hills 0
2013 2AA State Playoffs
Forest Hills by forfeit over Smoky Mountain
Parkwood 17, Forest Hills 7