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THS looking to improve

J.R. Tidwell/FCT Tharptown’s Kelby Hallmark runs in a touchdown last season. Hallmark is one of several returning players for the Wildcats.
J.R. Tidwell/FCT
Tharptown’s Kelby Hallmark runs in a touchdown last season. Hallmark is one of several returning players for the Wildcats.

The Tharptown Wildcats football team went 3-7 last season, which was a disappointment considering the high hopes players and coaches had going into the year.

Tharptown has not produced a varsity program for that long, and the school has been getting progressively better across several sports.

Head coach Bill Smith and his players believe that having the best season in program history may soon be a real possibility, and hopes are that this year may prove to be that time.

“We had a lot of kids that came and worked hard this summer,” he said. “It went pretty well for what it has been in the past.

“Our kids have good attitudes. They had a good practice yesterday. There are a lot of things we still have to get done, and we still have a long way to go.

“Overall I’m pleased with this group of boys. I think they’re going to work hard, try to improve and do what we need them to do.”

Most of the players that are expected to do great things for the Wildcats this year are veterans that any fan of the program will recognize.

“We have our quarterback back, Kelby Hallmark, who has been there since he was a ninth grader,” Smith said.

“Mike Rice is one of our running backs; he’ll be a junior. He’s been playing for the past three years.

“Matthew Brasuell will be a sophomore. He’s one of our young kids that has done well for us in the past.

“We have some experienced linemen, and some kids are coming out of our junior high program will be playing.

“We’ve got some players coming back that are showing some leadership. We’re excited about it.”

Standing in the way of Tharptown’s goal to have a great season are several quality Class 1A opponents.

“All of our region games are big,” Smith said. “We open the season with Phil Campbell. They are a 2A and a county opponent, and they only beat us by a touchdown last year. If we can get off to a good start against them that would be great. It would have helped us last year.

“I looked in our area, and Hackleburg, R.A. Hubbard and Shoals Christian will probably, I would think, be the top three teams.

“It would be great to upset one or all of them. Phillips has a new coach, so we don’t know what they will be doing.

“Vina is in the county, so that will be a big rivalry game. We play them the second game of the season.”

Given the experience of the majority of the players and their commitment to be a better team, Smith has high hopes for how the 2013 season may turn out.

“I think we will be improved,” he said. “I felt like last year that we should have won at least five games. We were in enough of them that five or six would have been a possibility.

“I really think we’ll be better all the way around. Our offense has performed well for three years. We score enough points, but we don’t play good defense.

“That’s going to be the key thing we have to get done. Kids are just not stepping up on the defensive side of the football like they need to.

“I believe this group can make a difference. If we play good defense, I think we can have a good season.”