After starting the 2019 season with its open week, Tuscola football will get its first game action of the year Friday. The Mountaineers will travel to Rhea County, Teneessee, to take on Rhea County High School in their season opener.
Now that fall camp is wrapped up, Mountaineers head coach J.T. Postell is looking forward to getting into the season with a deep, and, perhaps most importantly, healthy roster.
“I feel good,” Postell said. “Last week, our open week was a really good week of practice for us. We worked on a lot of fundamentals, worked on conditioning and just tired to clean some stuff up. But overall camp’s been really good, really productive, successful. We’ve come out of it for the most part healthy, which is always good, and we’re just ready to get going this week in game week.”
Going into the season opener, Postell and his staff feel like position battles are mostly settled and they know who their starters will be.
However, the team’s depth across a number of position groups will allow for competition for playing time throughout the season, starting with week one.
“We have a number of young men who can play for us and help us out which we always encourage and we always talk about,” Postell said. “Getting that depth helps us as we progress into the season. So for the most part, position battles are, I would say, settled right now. But I would still say we’ll have a lot of good competition each and every week.”
The game will be the first start of quarterback Coleman Bryson’s career. The sophomore signal caller takes the reins from his older brother Hunter, who transferred to a Charlotte high school.
Postell will be eager to see how Coleman Bryson is able to manage the game and limit mistakes, while flashing the athleticism that is one of his strengths.
“[I want to] see how he manages the game,” Postell said. “Gets us out of bad plays, get the call, gets us lined up. We know he’s athletic, use that athleticism to extend plays for us. If it’s a pass play and it’s not there, don’t force it. Don’t force it into bad coverage or double coverage and use your legs, throw the ball away.”
A physical, run-oriented Rhea County team will provide a good test for the Mountaineers to start things off. The Golden Eagles topped Carter 42-6 in their home opener.
Rhea County will look to pound the rock the way it did in that game; the Golden Eagles attempted just five passes (with one completion), all from senior Kyle Carr. They made up for it with their ground game, however, racking up 343 yards and six touchdowns on 45 carries, led by senior Jackson Langley (14 carries, 133 yards, three touchdowns) and junior Dalton Hampton (12 carries, 115 yards, touchdown).
That rushing attack, combined with a stout defense, will serve to test the Mountaineers on both sides of the line of scrimmage early.
“It’ll be a tough game,” Postell said. “They’re going to be physical. They like to run the football. They’ve got really good size up front. They don’t throw the football a whole lot, or from what we’ve seen on film they don’t. They line up, they get up after it and their ball control is very methodical. So we’ll have to be very physical at the point of attack. Defensively they fly around. They play really good technique; they’re sound. So it’ll be a really good challenge for us week one.”
The Mountaineers will be making a longer trip (about three hours) for their season opener, and that’s by design. Postell wants to treat it like a “playoff type” feel with the travel, and give his players an early opportunity to bond with the long trip.
“I think that’s really important,” Postell said. “That’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I took over as head coach. … I think it’s really good early because it’s right out of the gate. I think if you try to do something like this in the middle of the season, I think it can be a little tougher, the wear and tear on the young men’s bodies and everything like that, but I think doing this right out of the gate is going to be a lot of fun for our guys.”
Tuscola’s season opener against Rhea County will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
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