BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It's the question most people are probably asking when it comes to the Dunham Tigers and Sportsline Summer Camp.
“Since Derek left, there’s not really replacing a Derek Stingley, so next man has to be up and ready to take his place and do the best that they can do,” said senior linebacker Cobin Leindecker.
Head coach Neil Weiner has already started finding some answers after losing his star and leader to LSU.
In the spring game against Catholic Pointe Coupee, the big hits from Devin Taylor in the secondary definitely got our attention. Taylor is also a threat at wide receiver. He's one of a dozen seniors, most who will be going both ways for a 9-1 team that lost six starters on both offense and defense.
Meanwhile, sophomore Kalante Wilson, No. 22, figures to produce plenty of big plays at running back behind an experienced offensive line, considered large by 2A standards.
The biggest question is at the quarterback position. Senior Stephen Still is one of three options to take command under center. Patrick Day, who's strength is more of a dual threat, certainly showed up in 7-on-7 play this summer. However, waiting in the wings is senior Rhett Guidry, an experienced 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior who's more valuable at tight end and defensive end, but clearly knows the offense and showed it with the reps he got in the spring game.
Joining him on the defense are a couple of key playmakers at linebacker. Leindecker, a five-year starter, will be in the middle. Nick Suire was literally running all over the place against the Hornets, making big hits and falling on fumbles from his outside linebacker position for a defense featuring Guidry.
"He's going to be a real weapon," said Weiner. "He was our best defensive lineman last year and was unanimous first team all-district defensive end. He'll play some quarterback for us because he knows our offense better than any of the other guys, but he's a real weapon with that kind of height playing wide receiver and tight end as well."
"Our defensive line, we have really big dudes and our linebacking corps is pretty much all coming back," Leindecker added.
"I think our strength on defense is pretty most likely the linebackers because we have a lot of depth there and then, our DBs are pretty young," Suire explained.
The pre-district schedule will certainly show us what these Tigers are made of, minus No. 24, Derek Stingley Jr.
“We’ve got Brusly in the scrimmage, which is a big physical 3A team and U-High in the jamboree and then Woodlawn and then Parkview in week three, Archbishop Hannan, which is a bigger school, and then Kentwood, which is smaller in class, but they’re one of the biggest powers in the state,” Weiner added.
We got a glimpse of life without Stingley at the spring game against Catholic Pointe Coupee, where young defensive backs, like Josh Hardy and Cruz Bridges, have grown up to be a pair of 12 seniors.
Although he’s missing a dozen starters off a No. 3 seed from the Division III playoff bracket, Weiner said there are plenty of options, whether it’s playing his best guys both ways or turning to some young talent in key situations to see what they can do.
“We play guys early and often. If you’re in the eighth grade and you’ve made the team, you’re going to get on the field. And if you’re a ninth grader, we’re going to put you out there and if you’re ready to run down the field and hit somebody, we’ll find a place for you. So, I think it’s really paid off for us where we’ve got these seniors and maybe they haven’t started before, but they’ve played a significant amount,” said Weiner.
“A bunch of us are going to have to go both ways. We enjoy doing that because most bigger teams’ dudes only play one side of the ball, so we get an opportunity to get out there and have more fun,” Leindecker explained.
“One guy who’s really this is his first year playing football, Gabe Hitzman, he’s done really good catching a couple of touchdowns,” Suire stated.
We’re going to break a little early for storm coverage over the next three days, but we’ll make it up starting next Friday after SEC and SWAC media days are over in Birmingham.