Bulldogs happy to be back

Friday, July 29, 2016
CJ Coble (left) and Cayde Fitzgerald (right) square off for a little action in "Bulldog One" at Frog Bottom Monday in the first day of full pads. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Cornersville Bulldogs have a youthful enthusiasm about themselves and it was evident on Monday in the heat when they put on full pads for the first time at practice.

"I think we faced a little adversity with the heat today and the guys are going to have to learn how to adapt to it, because guess what, this is what is going to be like on Friday nights," Bulldog head coach Gerard Randolph said. "Nutrition nowadays in football is very huge, you have to take care of yourself and if you don't you will find yourself at the bottom steer of the line. You have to keep water in you and you have to eat right, we preach nutrition here."

Young team

Sophomore tight end/wide out Peyton Finch is looking to back up a great freshman season with a strong performance in 2016.

The nucleus of the Cornersville squad is young, very young with most of its skilled position players in the sophomore class or junior class.

"We are going to be ok, first day, still got a lot of young kids, we will be ok if they keep doing what we ask them to do and be coachable," Randolph said. "All the guys are picking up what we are trying to teach and working very hard."

Quarterback Eli Woodard, running backs Cameron Whittaker and Trenton Warren, and receivers Blake Pickett and Peyton Finch are all sophomores this year, while their most experienced skilled player, junior receiver Kolbe McMahon is coming off an ACL surgery.

Offensive coordinator Aaron Pitts looks on as sophomore quarterback Eli Woodard executes a screen pass in practice.

Standout sophomore lineman CJ Coble and fellow second year high school player Adam Qualls, along with classmates Devin Baus and Clay Mitchell will mix their youth with some very good experience along both the offensive and defensive lines with Ben Taylor, Brice Dunkleman, Brock Powers and Cade Fitzgerald serving as the upper classmen linemen.

Little depth

It is rough having any kind of depth being a Class A school from a small town like Cornersville where the majority of the players have to perform on both sides of the ball and any injury to one or two key players puts enormous pressure on the entire squad.

Bulldog head coach Gerard Randolph speaks to the troops after their first practice in full pads.

Randolph, who went 3-7 in his first year as head coach of the Bulldogs is an upbeat, positive person and he believes his squad is ready to win football games now.

"That is what we expect to do, when we step on the field from now on, we expect to win," Randolph said. "We are not going to be anybody's doormat and we are going to come out and set a physical presence. We are going to control the line of scrimmage, that's all the football I know, that's how you win ballgames."

New assistant

Sophomore lineman Alex Webster (76) come up through the hole to put a lick on a defensive scout team linebacker during practice Monday.

Randolph also has some new help in the coaching ranks this season with longtime friend and former Marshall County High School coach Aaron Pitts joining the fray as offensive coordinator.

"I am happy to have him here and just looking for big things from our offense this year," Randolph said. "The guys have competed and done a really good job in our seven-on-sevens and coach Pitts has done a great job with that offense."

It is imperative that the Bulldogs get off to a good start in their season opener on August 19 versus Mt. Juliet Christian at Frog Bottom, something they didn't do last year, losing 36-6 to the Saints on the road.

"We have a lot to get done in a short period of time, but the kids are coming out and adjusting and adapting to what we are trying to do," Pitts said. "We have some guys trying to step up, but what we need is reps, reps, reps."

Looking ahead

Road trips to Collinwood and Grace Christian of Franklin follow the home opener before the Bulldogs come back to Marshall County for five straight weeks with four games at Cornersville (Moore County, Mt. Pleasant, Huntland and Summertown), plus a bye week on September 16.

"These kids are doing a pretty good job of coming out and understanding that it is a process," Pitts said. "You are not going to win that August 19 game today, but you can take another step forward and then another step forward. That is what they are trying to do, that is what we are trying to coach them to do is to everyday get better, so by game one we will look like we do in game seven and hopefully we will continue to get better, week by week."