QUITMAN: Bulldogs dominant at line of scrimmage

Conference: 5-2A
Coach: DJ Marrs
’16 Record: 7-4

The Quitman Bulldogs rode a talented senior class to seven wins and a trip to the playoffs as the fourth seed out of the 5-2A.

“It was one of the top seasons in the school’s short history of playing football,” said Coach DJ Marrs, who is new to the program this year. “There was a very good senior class that did a great job leading them into the playoffs. A lot of the underclassmen got to be a part of that, so the expectation of making the playoffs is something that has to be here every year.”

Senior Donavon Foley takes over at quarterback. Hayden Gadberry and Tanner Stevenson will rotate at running back. The wide receiver corps will be led by seniors Reese Gines and Garrett Kennedy and sophmore Cordell Williams. Dylan Hensley and Seth Haynes will be in the rotation, too. According to Marrs, Wyatt Varvil lost 30 pounds in the off season and improved his speed as he shifts to tight end alongside Karson Lowe. Braxton Williams, Parker Davis, Devyn McVay, Tyler Steely and Sonny Heaver will hold down the offensive line.

“Offensively we look to use our size up front to control the line of scrimmage,” Marrs said. “We have some talent at the skill positions, but not much depth there. We have some guys who catch it well and will make big plays if they get the ball in space. Gadberry and Stevenson are physical runners that will get the tough yards falling forward. Foley is a special player. He’s a tight end that we moved to quarterback. He has a big arm and really understands the game. With his speed and size, he’s going to be exciting to watch this season.”

Lowe and McVay will start at the defensive end spots with a rotation of Braxton Williams, Varvil, Tyler Steeley and Jesse Salcedo on the interior. Sonny Heaver and Gadberry will play the inside linebacker spots with Tanner Stevenson and Seth Haynes at outside linebacker. Cordell Williams and Gines will man the corners with Kennedy playing safety. Hensley will rotate in to the nickel spot in certain packages.

“Defensively we return a good interior and look to do a great job stopping the run game, which for the most part, is the biggest focus in our league,” Marrs said. “Overall these guys are physical and love to bring the hat. It was the first thing I noticed about this team when I got to campus. Coach Buckner (defensive coordinator) has really focused in on the fundamentals and created a physical mentality on our defense.

“The 5-2A will continue to be a stong conference in 2017. Conway Christian and Hector will still be very talented, and England graduated a big senior class, but they are bringing in very good junior teams behind them. Magnet Cove returns quite a few starters, and Bigelow, Poyen and Cutter Morning Star are returning some good young players that saw a lot of playing time last year. It’s going to be a competitive year.”