ROSE BUD: Ramblers focus on building success under Norton

Conference: 2-3A
Coach: Chris Norton
’16 Record: 0-10

The Rose Bud Ramblers struggled with low numbers in 2016, ultimately being forced to forfeit their last six games. Chris Norton takes over a program looking to build success with starters returning at 17 positions.

“Throughout spring practice, effort and focus has been tremendous,” Norton said. “We have had a very productive start to our summer program and expect to be much improved going forward.”

Levi Balentine takes over the quarterback role this fall. He’ll be joined in the backfield by Dalton Hall at running back. Eli Weatherly, Josh Hampton, Austin “Reggie” Herring and Ethan Baker will lead the way at receiver in Rose Bud’s new Spread offense. James Dieckmann, Seth Fulton, Chance Reeves, Grant Moody and Rhett Hartwick project as starters on the offensive line.

“Levi Balentine has made huge strides at quarterback since I arrived in the spring,” Norton said. “Dalton Hall will be a great player and a 1,200-plus yards back for us. Receiver play is improving, and we need those guys to continue to commit to the details. Talent is solid at that position. The offensive line is improving; they have good size and are still working to understand our system. I think we can be a solid offensive football team.”

Jeremiah Watson attacks the defensive interior at nose guard. Darrell Barber and Nick Spann start at the ends. Austin Cox, Fulton and Scott Baker start at linebacker. Hall holds down the bandit spot in the 3-3-5 defense, and Herring starts at rambler. Austin Jackson and Ethan Baker hold down the corners with Balentine starting at safety.

“Defensively we are working to be more physical and have stressed tackling and takeaways,” Norton said. “Jeremiah Watson has the physical ability to be a great player at nose guard; he needs to continue to improve his conditioning. Darrell Barber has improved throughout the summer and has had back-to-back productive team camps. Seth Fulton and Scott Baker will lead us at linebacker. Austin Jackson makes us much better in the defensive backfield — he’s a very athletic young man, as is sophomore Ethan Baker. Dalton Hall, Reggie Herring and Levi Balentine have performed very well through the spring and summer.

“We have some talented skill guys. Commitment has been very good, and the young men are buying into our program and plan for the future. We need to continue to improve on the offensive and defensive front, we must become more physical and we’ve got to continue working to grow numbers over the next few years.”

5 Players to Watch:
Levi Balentine (Jr. QB/DB)
Dalton Hall (Jr. RB/DB)
Ethan Baker (Soph. WR/DB)
Seth Fulton (Sr. OL/LB)
Reggie Herring (Jr. WR/DB)


1 Must-see Game:
“Our season opener versus Quitman. We’re going to be much improved. There is some excitement over there with a new coach, as well, and a transfer that’s gotten some praise. It’s a local rivalry, very competitive series historically — we expect it to be a good game this fall.” — Norton

2017 Schedule:
Sept. 1        at Quitman
Sept. 8        Marshall
Sept. 15    at Conway Christian
Sept. 22    Marianna
Sept. 29    Episcopal
Oct. 6        at Mayflower
Oct. 13        at Cedar Ridge
Oct. 20        Harding Academy
Oct. 27        at Bald Knob
Nov. 2        at Barton