BOYD BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS
Head coach: Gary Rankin (7-4 here; 474-82 overall)
Returning starters: 6 offensive; 5 defensive
Last year's record: 7-4, lost in TSSAA Division II-AA first round
Key players: Jaylon Sanderfer (6-2, 220) Sr. RB/OLB, Houston Hicks (6-1, 200) Jr. QB, Brody Lowe (5-11, 170) Jr. QB, Asher Keck (6-1, 180) Sr. RB/OLB, Sebastian Jones (5-9, 165) So. DB, Jatavious Davis (5-7, 175) Jr. RB, David Green (5-11, 175) So. ATH, Tim Jones (5-10, 170) Sr. WR, Caden Bates (5-10, 185) Sr. NG/LB, Connor Beard (6-0, 210) OL, Jack Frazier (6-4, 260) So. OL, Darren Shannon (5-11, 170) Jr. CB, Hudson Womack (6-2, 170) Jr. WR.
Season outlook: The Bucs made impressive progress in Rankin's first season after back-to-back losing records prior to his arrival, but the expectation is for an even bigger jump in year two as depth and overall athleticism have improved greatly.
Hicks, who started last year, and Lowe are capable of leading the offense at quarterback. Sanderfer, who has offers from Memphis and Samford, was an all-state linebacker last year and will also be a physical presence at receiver and running back.
Keck, who transferred in from Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy, has a ton of talent with the ball in his hands but is far from the only playmaker in the backfield. Davis, who is a track sprinter, is expected to break out this season, while Green is versatile enough to play any offensive skill position. Although he's only a freshman, Isaac Summey has the potential to be dynamic and plays with a confidence level beyond his years, Rankin said.
"We feel better about the foundation we built last year and the direction we're headed," Rankin said. "We're much stronger physically, and even though we lost some good players, we have some really good leaders back. The kids understand what's expected now, and we're a lot more confident as a team than we were last year.
"This is a big season to see where we are as a program. You can't rush experience. That comes on the field. We've got good overall speed at the skill positions and four running backs that we feel really good about, but we're inexperienced up front with three sophomore starters, so we need to find some more linemen that we can count on because our league is pretty physical."
Contact Stephen Hargis at [email protected].