Vincent football optimistic about summer

While the Jackets have lost a considerable amount of talent at the skill positions — notable quarterback Michael Gilham (pictured) and running backs Rodney Groce and Ryan Kelow — head coach Jason Hill said he feels good about the upcoming summer workout season. (FILE)

While the Jackets have lost a considerable amount of talent at the skill positions — notable quarterback Michael Gilham (pictured) and running backs Rodney Groce and Ryan Kelow — head coach Jason Hill said he feels good about the upcoming summer workout season. (FILE)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

VINCENT — The 2013 season was an interesting one for the Vincent Yellow Jackets football team.

For starters, it was head coach Jason Hill’s first with the squad. Hill replaced Zeb Ellison in July of 2013, leaving the coach with little time to waste as the squad prepared to take the field. The maiden voyage for coach and team was a successful one, as the team posted a winning record (6-4) with wins over larger-AHSAA classification opponents Montevallo (3A) and West Blocton (4A).

The downside? Despite the strong performance and season, the Yellow Jackets failed to secure a playoff spot and stayed at home in the postseason.

While the Jackets have lost a considerable amount of talent at the skill positions — notable quarterback Michael Gilham and running backs Rodney Groce and Ryan Kelow — Hill said he feels good about the upcoming summer workout season.

“I thought our spring was successful,” he said. “We went in trying to concentrate on fundamentals. We found a quarterback and backup (and) some depth at the skill positions.”

A win over Holtville in a spring exhibition matchup only helped the learning process, Hill said.

“Our performance in the spring game probably exceeded my expectations,” he said. “When you lose your quarterback, both running backs and a wide receiver, you don’t know what to expect. It’s a good tool.”

In an effort to build team morale, Hill said he and the coaching staff divided the team up by seniors, allowing each senior to draft a team of younger players to take under their wing.

All summer long, each team will compete against each other in weightlifting competitions and other exercises, Hill said.

“With our limited space in the weight room, we have to be creative,” he said.

Hill said the increased number of students turning out to play for the Jackets also had the team excited.

“WE were able finish spring practice with 40 (players),” he said. “It helps us to compete with the 4A and 5A teams. I’m really excited about our potential.”

The Jackets will take to the field Aug. 22, once again opening with West Blocton at home. Vincent took a 28-20 win over the Tigers in 2013.