Prediction: Coosa Valley prepared to build for future success

Published 1:37 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HARPERSVILLE – Coosa Valley has a new look going into 2023.

Of the 25 players currently on the roster, only six have played football before, according to head coach Vince DiLorenzo.

That means that in addition to their regular preparations for the 2023 season, DiLorenzo and his staff have needed to teach basic fundamentals such as passing, catching, blocking and tackling to their players. It’s a difficult undertaking at any school, but Coosa Valley’s small size makes it especially hard.

Luckily, Coosa Valley has a successful veteran coach in DiLorenzo, who won the school’s last regional title in 2010, and even though the Rebels have struggled on the field since he returned to the program, he is committed to bringing back a positive, winning culture.

The other upside of having a mostly clean slate is that much of the culture from last year’s team is gone and DiLorenzo can rebuild the locker room into one that will be successful in the future.

Senior Konnor Steele will step into the quarterback position for his first season under center. According to DiLorenzo, he’s a very tough player and prepares for games very well. His upperclassman status should be a great help on a developing team, and he should have a good deal of familiarity by the time the season kicks off.

One of Coosa Valley’s few returning players is running back Dustin Prickett, whorings quickness and athleticism despite his small frame. He knows what it takes to be successful in the offense, and the more Coosa Valley utilizes his unique skill set, the better off they should be.

As for the receivers, Coosa Valley has a mix of experience and fresh faces. Joseph Tyson and Braylon Smalls are both back in the role this season, and they will be joined by rookies Jake McArthur, Coby Moore and Ethan Hollingsworth. If this group comes together quickly, that will be a great help for Steele as he settles into playing quarterback.

Offensive line is a similar combination of old and new players, with Keaden Smalls and Broxton Lightner as upperclassmen on the line and Brooks Klinner, Joseph Grantham and Brycen Wilson playing their first seasons of football. Smalls is expected to be an impact player on both offensive and defensive line, but DiLorenzo expects a big season from him on the defensive side of the ball.

DiLorenzo was also optimistic about Steele and Brycen Wilson as the defense’s linebacker duo. He thinks both will play well and be impactful players this year. With Steele becoming the signal caller on offense, he may also step up and take over a leadership role on the other side of the ball.

Smalls will be the centerpiece of the secondary, and with fellow receivers Tyson, McArthur and Moore coming over the secondary room, they should be able to carry over the chemistry that they develop as a receiver group to play well on defense.

Overall, while this is a very young group that needs experience, there is a great deal of raw potential at each position, and it will be interesting to see how the roster takes shape over the course of the season.

Prediction: 1-9. There’s no getting around that last season was difficult both on and off the field for Coosa Valley. While a nearly full reset will ultimately be the best solution for the program to succeed long term, that means the growing pains will be difficult this season. The old and new players will need to generate chemistry throughout this season as they build a foundation for the future but also play with the goal of winning as much as they can now. The coaching staff will also need to continue finding the best positions and systems for each player so they can get the most out of this team. I believe there are a few opportunities outside of the region schedule for Coosa Valley to get a win or two, but the region slate is very difficult to find wins in simply because of the gap that was displayed last season between the Rebels and the rest of the region. Even though this season will likely be difficult, I am optimistic for the future and everything in the years to come because of the hard work that this group of players and coaches put in.