DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - The Live Oak Eagles are hoping to improve upon their 6-5 mark from 2016 with nine returning starters on defense and a revamped offense under new offensive coordinator Bob Howell in 2017.

Battling for the quarterback spot will be juniors Cameron Dickerson and Sal Palmero. Head coach Brett Beard told WAFB that Dickerson is a bit more mobile, while Palmero has a bigger arm.

Deciding to stick to the defensive side of the ball this season is Khalil Smith. Smith had been a dominant force in the backfield for the Eagles the past couple seasons, but because he projects as a defensive player in college, that's where he'll focus his attention.

"A lot of it is instinctive, since I played linebacker in middle school, but I'm learning a lot at the same time," Smith said of his permanent switch to defense. "We have a lot of good players, a lot of seniors. We just want to go out there and have fun. We're really built through brotherhood - ninth grade through senior year."

"When you have guys on defense that are great guys and great athletes that have worked, have played and that are comfortable inside, not to mention nine starters back and three rotational guys that we call '1-Bs' that all have experience…they're really good high school players that we love, that we can trust in any situation," Beard said about his defense. "When you have nine starters and the defensive staff that we have with coach Brian Smith as the coordinator, we feel like this is a chance for us to mirror that first defense we had or be a whole lot better."

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