Oak Mountain football building momentum headed into summer
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY — The Oak Mountain Eagles football squad’s 2013 record is a bit misleading.
It reads as a 4-6 season and no trip to the playoffs, but it does not show the fact the Eagles were in rebuilding mode nor the fact that it took Prattville, Pelham and Spain Park down to the wire only to come up short each time.
This season figures to be an improvement, as head coach Cris Bell said he feels strongly about the squad’s spring practices heading into the summer workout months.
Overall, we had a very good spring,” Bell said in an email interview. “We certainly need to continue to develop in a few areas, but we’ve grown a ton as a program over the past two years and are ahead of where we were at this point a year ago.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Bell said he’s noticed growth both in the maturity of the players as well as the overall depth at the positions.
“We have to replace three starters on the offensive line, and I feel we’ve done that as well as establish some depth there,” he said. “Our offensive backfield is very good and has depth we’ve not had since I’ve been here.”
Bell said that while the defense may feature less experienced players, he was confident in their abilities.
“Defensively, we are going to be young, but I like our guys on that side of the ball,” he said. “Our linebacking corps should be very good, and we will be steady up front. The secondary will be young but has ability and will need to grow up in a hurry.”
In addition to the defense needing to be able to get acclimated quickly, the Eagles are still in search of a key piece to its passing game.
“Offensively, we have our top two receivers coming back, but we still need to establish a threat throwing the ball,” he said. “We have to improve our ability to throw and catch the football if we want to compete in our new region.”
While the passing game is still in the works, the run game appears to be on track to be ready for the move to AHSAA Class 7A this fall. Bell said the play of offensive linemen Blake Snow and Michael Walker as well as that of running backs Daniel Salchert and Jaylin Gaines has stood out this spring.
“We’re much more explosive offensively in our run game, and that showed most of the spring,” he said. “Defensively, we are running to ball very, very well and tackled as well as we’ve done since I’ve been here.”