NO. 6 BETHEL
COACH: Bubba Hooker (second year at Bethel, 7-4; eighth year overall, 11-60).
2011: 7-4, 6-3 (4th), lost 50-15 to Oscar Smith in Eastern Region Division 6 quarterfinals
LAST TIME NOT IN PLAYOFFS: 2010
LAST LOSING SEASON: 2006
TOP RETURNEES: OL/DL Ricky Walker (6-2/278/Jr.), RB/CB Jihad Hudson (5-6/145/Sr.), S/WR Nicholas Clark (5-11/146/Sr.), WR/DB Corey Sweetenberg (5-10/166/Sr.), QB Trey Jackson (5-9/173/Sr.), RB/CB Justin Blue (5-9/181/Sr.), OL/DL Todd Barker (6-0/280/Sr.), WR/LB Casey Pretlow (5-11/199/Sr.), OL/DL Marc Maddox (5-9/231/Sr.), PK Jordan Shover (6-3/154/Jr.).
2011 STATISTICAL RANKINGS:
25.8 (4th)….……..PPG…...…...…….17.5 (6th)
111.2 (8th)……… Rushing…………..144.5 (6th)
210.9 (1st)…... Passing………......87.3 (3rd)
322.1 (1st)…….Total……………..231.8 (6th)
There are two big changes: One, former Phoebus assistant Ron Johnson is the coordinator. And two, the philosophy is completely different. No longer will the Bruins use a no-huddle spread that gains about two-thirds of its yards by air. Hooker is switching to a traditional running game that will be designed to churn out yards and eat up as much of the 25-second play clock as possible. Jackson, who completed 2-of-8 passes last year backing up Frank Brown, will run the show. In Willie Davis and Rashawn Proctor, the Bruins lost two receivers who combined for 99 catches and 23 TDs last season. Alex Wilson (eight catches, 107 yards) is the top returning receiver. In Hudson (21 carries, 105 yards), who missed much of last season with a hip pointer, Hooker believes he has a solid back. Demetrius Dinkins (10 carries, 39 yards) will back him up. Walker will join the offensive line after concentrating on defense his first two seasons. Maddox, who is battling a knee injury, is the only returning starter on the offense.
A beneficiary of the switch in offensive philosophy should be the defense, which occasionally found itself on the field too much last year. The Bruins gave up 20 or more points six times, including a pair of wins. Under new defensive coordinator Bernie West, previously the coach of the successful JV team, Bethel hopes to be more consistent in the 4-4-3 set. Walker is a star, and Hooker plans to play him “wherever we think they’ll run the ball.” Virginia Tech is among his offers at this point. Pretlow returns at linebacker where he’ll be joined by Jaciel Graves (5-10/214-Sr.), Stephan Parris (6-2/158/Sr.) and Brian Moore (5-11/188/Jr.). Clark is the veteran in the secondary and will be joined by Blue and Hudson at the corners. Freshman Terry Chisley is the backup at both corner spots.
THE COACH SAYS:
“We’re changing ur from a quick-strike, throw-it-down-the-field (style) to sort of a slow, methodical offense. I don’t want to say three yards and a cloud of dust because that doesn’t equal a first down. So hopefully four yards and a cloud of dust. … We’re trying to instill a tougher mentality by running the ball. We feel like that will help us in the long run. … We’re trying to set the foundation for the program as far as the kids being strong and tough. … We’re trying to find the five best (on the line). Ricky hasn’t played offense to speak of, but he goes 6-2, 278, and he does a good job wherever he plays. … We’ve been working hard on the fundamentals. We’re very basic. Eight-man front, 4-4-3, I-pro, split-pro, some gun when we have to throw. We’re trying to spend most of our time coaching the fundamentals. … We’ve led the league in passing, but so what? When it’s all said and done, it hasn’t helped us get to where we want to be. … We’ve got so many inexperienced kids. They might not be young, but they’re inexperienced as far as playing tine.”
If all goes as planned, the 2012 edition will look more like the Bethel of old. The Peninsula District has never been a finesse league, and a running game is a must. The Bruins had that with Jontel Evans and Sam Bennett, and they need to revive it. Jackson won’t be asked to do as much as Frank Brown was last season. Hudson and Dinkins both showed promise last year as runners. The front line is green with only Maddox a returning starter, though you have to assume Walker will flourish in his new role. And the more time the offense takes off the clock, the less time the defense needs to be on the field. That’s how you win in the PD, and the Bruins hope to rediscover that formula. If they do, they’ll make the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun