Kingwood football rebuilding during spring

After the graduation of senior leadership like Montez Haynes (No. 5), Kingwood Christian head coach Steve Birmingham said his team will turn to younger players to step into major roles. (Contributed/Diane Cunningham)

After the graduation of senior leadership like Montez Haynes (No. 5), Kingwood Christian head coach Steve Birmingham said his team will turn to younger players to step into major roles. (Contributed/Diane Cunningham)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

ALABASTER — Kingwood Christian head football coach Steve Birmingham knows he has his work cut out for him.

After a 2013 season that saw the Lions win a school-record nine game — including the first playoff win in program history — graduation has done the Lions’ roster no favors.

“It hit us tremendously hard,” he said. “We had four seniors offered scholarships, two to Division-I schools. It hit us right in the gut.”

Birmingham said that the battle to get ready for the season has been uphill so far, but he believes in the young talent taking the field.

“We’re low on numbers,” Birmingham said. “It’s very difficult to have a good spring practice with the numbers we have. Saying that, I’m confident we’ll have a good summer and be ready for fall.”

Birmingham said while the Lions are lacking in depth at the moment, the team has a willingness to learn that has him optimistic about the team’s potential.

“One thing I saw in this group of guys that stood out was that even though (they’re) few in number, they have a lot of heart,” he said. “That goes a long way.”

Three of the top playmakers for the Lions last season — quarterback Gavin Sumrall and receivers C’Yontai Lewis and Montez Haynes — along with several others have graduated, leaving the Lions looking for younger players to step up and fill the roles left behind.

Birmingham said replacing the standouts from last season will be tough, but he has faith in the ability of the returning starters as well as a few additions to the squad.

“Gage Sumrall will definitely be a leader,” he said. “Charles White, he’ll be one to watch. Wyatt Baker (a Thompson transfer), he’s going to be a fine athlete. I think he’ll help fill the shoes of some of the seniors we lost.”

While the Lions are far from ready for competition, Birmingham said he was confident in their ability to step up in time for the season.

“We have a busy summer,” he said. “We’ll be ready.”