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Brian Tannehill Tallassee running back Zavion Carr (32) breaks around the end and runs for a touchdown against Elmore County on Friday.

OFFENSE

QB: Braxton Buck, Holtville, Sr.

With nearly 20 starts and over 2,000 passing yards under his belt already, Buck is looking to make even more noise in his first full season as the full-time starter.

RB: Mitchell Boyd, Edgewood, Sr.

Minor injuries kept Boyd from reaching big numbers last year but he continued to make an impact and is expected to do even more in a full-time role this season.

RB: Antonio Trone, Stanhope Elmore, So.

After Trone took on a handful of carries per game and scored four touchdowns last year, the Mustangs are excited about what he has to offer as a starter.

WR: Teddy Harris, Stanhope Elmore, Sr.

The Mustangs missed Harris’ explosive ability last year but he returns from Autauga for his senior season and he should get the ball 10 to 15 times per game.

WR: Garrett Ingram, Holtville, Jr.

Ingram came on late in the season but he showed off his speed and big-play ability immediately and should get a lot more chances this year.

TE: Carson Peevy, Edgewood, Sr.

Peevy was not targeted too often but he always seemed to come up in big moments, averaging 16.1 yards per catch and scoring three touchdowns last season.

OL: Lane Batyski, Holtville, Sr.

The Bulldogs have plenty of experience on their offensive line but Batyski has stood out as the leader and is returning in the middle as the team’s center.

OL: Colby Golson, Wetumpka, Sr.

Sealing the edge and protecting the blind side may be more important than ever in Wetumpka’s offense this year and the team will be relying on Golson to get the job done.

OL: Coby Mann, ECHS, Sr.

Coach Jordan Cantrell is putting a lot of responsibility on Mann’s shoulders this year but the Panthers fully expect him to be up for the challenge.

OL: Joel Hughes, Stanhope Elmore, Sr.

Hughes has plenty of starts at center for the Mustangs and that experience has helped him grow, putting his knowledge of the game right up there with some of his coaches.

OL: Ben Barker, Wetumpka, Sr.

Wetumpka will have Barker starting on the ball for the third straight season, taking up one of the most critical roles in the spread offense.

ATH: Brandon Bowman, Wetumpka, Sr.

As one of the few returning skill players in the Wetumpka offense, Bowman is expected to get plenty of touches whether it’s taking snaps, handoffs, screen passes or deep throws.

DEFENSE

DE: William Whitlow Jr., Stanhope Elmore, Sr.

Whitlow is next in the long line of elite talent on the Mustangs’ defensive line and before he goes off to the next level (likely an SEC destination), he’s set to put up some more big numbers.

DT: Michael Moore, Tallassee, Sr.

At just 185 pounds, Moore may not have the size one would expect to need playing in the trenches in Class 5A but coaches say his technique and football IQ make up for it.

DT: Jacob Nichols, Holtville, Sr.

As a second-year starter, Nichols has become a vital part of Holtville’s success at the line of scrimmage.

DE: Caleb Foster, Stanhope Elmore, Jr.

Foster could end up seeing ridiculous numbers this season with opponents focused on Whitlow Jr. but it will not take long for those opponents to realize they have to focus on Foster too.

LB: Mikey Forney, Holtville, Jr.

After leading the Bulldogs in tackles in two seasons as an underclassman, it may be almost impossible for Forney to get statistically better but he’s going to continue to play a crucial role on every play.

LB: Zavion Carr, Tallassee, Jr.

The Tigers have to replace all-state athlete Tavarious Griffin and Carr fits the mold on both sides of the ball and already has one year of experience under his belt.

LB: Lamarius Jackson, Wetumpka, Jr.

Jackson was thrown into the fire last season trying to fill in for a two-time all-state player but he held his own and coach Tim Perry expects the year of experience to help even more.

LB: Cole Boothe, ECHS, Sr.

It will be rare to find a play without Boothe on the field and just as rare to see a play where Boothe isn’t involved.

DB: Avery Thomas, Wetumpka, Jr.

After starting all 12 games at safety last season, Thomas will move to the outside to be in charge of locking down opponents’ top receivers.

DB: Azlan Williams, Stanhope Elmore, Sr.

Williams is known as a head-hunter in the Mustangs’ secondary but he is much more than that, becoming one of the best coverage backs in the county.

DB: Alex Johnson, Edgewood, Sr.

While Johnson may get most of his recognition as quarterback, he is expected to see even more time at safety as coach Chad Michael has dubbed Johnson “just too good” to sit out of the secondary.

DB: Carter Harrison, Stanhope Elmore, Sr.

Harrison will take on a more hybrid role this year, spending plenty of time in coverage but also making some impact at the line of scrimmage.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.

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