By: Jeff Doke
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
After an unexpected trip to the state championship game last season, the Frederica Knights are looking to temper expectations for this season. “We’re rebuilding, but we’ve got some really talented kids,” says Head Coach Brandon Derrick.
Arguably the most talented young man on the roster is sophomore RB Jordan Triplett. The #1 freshman running back in the nation last year, “The River” Jordan has been busy this offseason, attending numerous football camps, including a tryout for the US National Team.
“Jordan will be bigger and better this year,” according to Coach Derrick. “He’s got great speed especially when someone’s chasing him. When he gets in the open field, he didn’t get run down one time last year.”
Hamp Thompson, who played back-up last year, will also see a lot more action.
“This year he’s gotta be ready to play,” said Derrick. “It’s going to be a new experience for him.”
Another big year is expected from Senior Quarterback Thomas Veal. After being unexpectedly thrust back into the starting lineup last year, Coach Derrick is counting on solid development and performance from the signal-caller.
“Veal has been pretty good (in camp). He’s going to be a bit more of a runner this year. He’s got sneaky speed and he showed it last year. I think he’s got a greater understanding of what we’re trying to do. Experience is going to help him.”
Of the returning offensive & defensive linemen, there will be some new assignments for the 2021 season. Rising Junior Sam Norris, who played last year at Guard, will be moving to center to replace the graduated Joshua Elliot.
Quite possibly the most notable addition to the 2021 squad comes to the DL in the form of a 5’10” 305lb Ashton Frankel. A senior who was in line to be a starter at 7A North Gwinnett High, Frankel will be lining up at Nose Tackle for Frederica. According to Coach Derrick, Ashton “has done a good job of coming in and fitting right in.”
While the OL and DL are major points of concern, the receiving corps seems to be in good shape.
“We’ll be okay at WR,” according to Coach Derrick. “We didn’t have flashy speed last year but were still able to average 100 yards a game and complete 60% of our passes because we knew what we were capable of doing. We’ll have to be very calculated this year.”
With rising senior Chase Schueneman transferring to Glynn Academy, the leadership mantle of the receivers falls on the capable shoulders of senior WR Bryce Reilly.
According to Coach Derrick, “Bryce has the experience; he’s a senior with four years of game time under his belt. He’s nursing a tweaked knee right know, but he’ll be good to go.
At the Tight End position, the job looks to belong once again to Jon Phillip Spiers. While he “may be moved to OT” according to the Coach, they’re “trying to keep him at TE as the slot guy.”
When asked who will be the big surprise this season, Coach Derrick points to either William Levy or sophomore Blake Holloway.
“Blake is going to be a big-time football player this year. He’s 6’3, he may wind up being a premium DE/OLB when it’s all said and done, but he’s so fast at CB and he’s good. He’s going to be a big target down the field with great hands. He and Bryce are going to be a great pair.”
Elsewhere on the defense, DT Mike Collier still hasn’t recovered from last year’s injury. The team is expecting him back around mid-season. In the meantime, senior MLB Jacob Aiken will definitely be the defensive anchor.
“We’re not going to be flying around, trying to go no huddle with everybody. We’re going to slow it down, more ball control/clock control,” says Coach Derrick. “Our kids understand where it’s at. It’ll be interesting.”