Ahhhh! Spring!

A time for boating, fishing, vacationing, walking on the beach and football.

Football!

Yes, football. When it comes to coach Joey Pearson and the Lafayette Hornets, football is a way of life along Hornet Lane in Mayo.

Last week the Hornets returned to the gridiron for two weeks of spring drills to sharpen their skills for the upcoming fall football season in September. Coach Pearson, along with assistant coaches Mike Harris and Mark Beach, has been running the Hornets through drills for a couple hours each day in preparation for the seasons beginning.

The Hornets, who finished a perfect 10-0 regular season, hopes to continue their winning ways and advance further in the state playoffs in 2007. The Hornets fell to St. Joe in a first round game last season.

Kyle Pearson, who will be a senior this school year and at the fullback slot on offense while filling one of the linebackers position on the other side of the football, is optimistic as the new season approaches. “I think we will pretty good this year,” he said. “We do have a tough schedule this year with the addition of Keystone. Hopefully we can go unbeaten again this season.”

The Hornets suffered perhaps a bigger cut on defense with the departure of some key players from last year’s team. Pearson said some of the returning players will have to step it up some on the defensive side of the ball. “We lost two Division I players (Aaron Gresham and Darren Poe) and their shoes will be pretty hard to fill but we have some players who can do it.”

The Hornets did not don pads until Friday of last week and held a vigorous workout. The veteran coach stressed good tackling in the first week of practice. “That and hold on to the football,” said Pearson. “My bother, Christopher (linebacker), will have to step up for us this year as well as Thomas Byrd (middle linebacker).”

Both players looked impressive in the early spring workouts and Pearson thought both would be contributors in the upcoming season.

Pearson said he has some personal goals he would like to see accomplished this coming season and one of those was to repeat as district champions. “That and to beat Port St. Joe,” he said. “I think it is very possible for us to go 10-0 again. We have a lot of returning starters and I feel we can do it.”

Nathan Broughton, a junior right tackle, had to switch to the nose guard spot because of an injury to the starting nose guard. “I started the final two games on defense because the starting nose guard got hurt last year. I will return to the defensive line this year and hope to come back strong.”

Broughton has a lot of optimism about the team this year as they tread to embark on a new 10 game schedule. “I am very optimistic about the upcoming season, he said. “There are some rivals we would like to take care of again, teams like Hawthorne and the comments that were made. I’d like to settle that up.”

He feels like if the Hornets meet Port St. Joe it will be a different outcome because, “...third time is charm.”

“This is going to be a very strong team and we can go as far as we want to go this year,” he said. “That is what we all have been told and that is what I strongly believe. We have some new linemen who really has to step up. My being a returning offensive lineman, I am excited about seeing what a couple of them will do.”

Eric McIntyre will be the feature back for the Hornets this season but Broughton did not hesitate to point to a young sophomore, Shyler Watson who will see some time in the backfield. “He has some talent. He has as much speed as Eric does,” said Broughton. “I really expect big things out of him. “Both backs are neck and neck as far as talent and speed.”

The junior lineman said two big holes remain to be filled at the defensive end slots with the loss of both Darren Poe and James Dees. “We have a big gap at middle lineback since Aaron (Gresham) left,” said Broughton. “We are looking for big things from the Pearson twins.”

The start of the 2007 season is still four months off but Broughton said he will not be satisfied with anything less than a unbeaten regular season and a district championship. “We can do it! I believe that,” he said.

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