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Comets defense - tougher, flexible
SoVaNow.com / August 15, 2013Halifax County High School hopes to be tougher and more resilient on defense this season. The defensive scheme is the 3-3 stack, backed up by the defensive secondary.
As for the defensive line, HCHS is rotating candidates there. Halifax does not have a starting three so far for its d-line.
James Halaz has been moved to the d-line for his speed and size. Darius Younger, who went to the Ohio NFL camp, will be on the line. Jamall Hubbard, featured today, is playing at defensive end, and Ricky Tucker is there as well.
Jalil Palmer is playing at nose tackle. Larry Hall, who worked very hard in the weight room, will be playing nose.
The Comets are also a work in progress at linebacker.
Ryan Waller is a sophomore playing linebacker, with an ability to plug holes. Tre’ Morgan can also play in linebacker, with an ability to cover space. Waller and Mister Higgins might see action at linebacker as well.
As for the defensive backfield, Tyler Stephens will be in the mix at strong safety, along with Juan Jackson. Markyee Thomas and Malik Clark will also be at corner. Devan Richardson will also add depth to the corner spots.
As for overall speed, Roark believes the Comets are faster than they were a year ago.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kyle Lacks will be the main specialist, perhaps being used from 30 yards in for place-kicking, as the situation warrants. Roark also wants to improve on the number of touchbacks, ruling out a return. That was a weak spot for the Comets.
Lacks will be used to see if he can get the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Lacks will handle PATs.
HCHS is also expecting to use R.J. Scott as the long snapper.
As for punting, Roark has an unusual approach. He’s not a traditionalist by any means, and he’ll watch game situations, with an eye towards watching net yardage, vs. another chance to score or at least get a first down.
“If we’re in spread, and I’ve got a quarterback who can stand back there ... catch it, one step and pooch (kick) it 30 yards ... if we’re in our offense, you can’t be sending out different people to cover it, because you’ve got to worry if you’re going to run the ball, throw the ball or kick the ball,” said Roark, who does not have the luxury of extra special teams performers.
“You’ve got to use every down you can in high school to your advantage, and that’s what we want to do,” said Roark.
As for kick returners, look for Brandon, Devan Richardson, Alonzio Jones and Malik Clark. Special teams installation began this week, so the Comets have more time.
Halifax has a scrimmage with Staunton River tomorrow night, followed by the benefit game at Buckingham next Friday, and the season opener on Aug. 30 at Jefferson Forest.
CHANGING THE CULTURE: Roark continues to work on changing the recent culture of HCHS football.
Roark believes the Comets had an excellent off-season. There was more emphasis on off-season lifting, and HCHS got an idea with the necessary of a strong off-season work ethic.
The Comets started installing parts of the scheme back in March, and the skill set players got extensive experience in 7-on-7 drills, against very strong competition at times.
Roark is trying to rebuild the football culture at HCHS, which has struggled for consistency since the Coleman Starnes (69-31-1) era.
“This is a three or four year turnaround to do it right. You want to rebuild the whole program, starting from the middle school all the way up to the high school. That whole mentality changed, and it’s not going to happen in 12 months,” said Roark.
Roark also conceded the first two games - with Jefferson Forest away and Glass at home - are important. He hopes to establish early momentum.
HCHS also hopes to crack the playoffs, as the Comets get the same points for the Martinsville and the Franklin County games.
Roark believes a 4-6 finish or 5-5 gives HCHS a legitimate shot at the playoffs, with 16 teams making the cut in the new 5-A classification. The no. 16 seed would be on the road in the regional 5-A playoffs to meet a powerhouse no. 1 team in Northern Virginia.
But Roark knows the main deal now is positive forward steps, and that’s what he and his assistants will try to accomplish. The season begins Aug. 30 at Jefferson Forest.
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