HCS kicks off season Aug. 16

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

By DREW GRANTHUM / Sports Writer

PELHAM — The Hope Christian Eagles kick off their season Aug. 16 on the road at Tabernacle in Gardendale, kicking off the 2013 football season for Shelby County schools as well.

The game features several unknowns for the Eagles, who are in their second season under head coach Tony Nafe.
“We’re pretty strong talent wise,” said Nafe. “I’ve got a lot of players unproven in the positions they’re in.”

Nafe said the Eagles have played Tabernacle four times, going 3-1 in that stretch. However, Nafe said he isn’t sure what to expect out of Tabernacle, as a recent coaching change had changed how Tabernacle approached the game.

“We know nothing about them,” said Nafe. “They had a bright young coach who left to go to Westminster in Atlanta. His dad took back over (after coaching several years back). They’re always well coached. I don’t expect any drop off.”

Nafe said preparation for Tabernacle was tough, but not impossible.

“We review film from last year, and several years back,” he said. “(We will) simplify our offense significantly, going in with the understanding we have to play strong fundamental football.”

The Eagles have a quarterback battle going into the game, as both Reid Allen and Dillon Thompson are vying for playing time under center. Nafe said he doubted there would be one clear-cut player taking the reins of the offense, but that he wanted to make use of Thompson’s speed wherever possible.

“Right now, we’re going to a dual (system),” he said. “Reid will probably take a majority of the snaps. Dillon will probably see more time at wide receiver. That battle’s still raging.”

The Eagles also face a tough battle by opening on the road for the first two games of the season, as they will travel to Auburn the following week to play Ballard. Nafe said it wasn’t ideal, but it would give his staff a good idea of where the team stood on both sides of the ball.

He also said he felt good about his team’s quickness, despite their inexperience at certain positions.

“Our offensive and defensive line is as big as we’ve ever had,” he said. “Not just big, they’re athletic and quick. Should make a huge difference. The difference on defense (will be) to get in there quickly.”