The Tift County Blue Devils surprised many last season with their first state playoff berth since 2008. They'll try to build on it in 2015 with a new head coach.
It's not too much of a transition for the Blue Devils, as former assistant head coach Ashley Anders has been promoted into the head coaching role.
Anders says he's been most impressed with the Blue Devils work ethic this summer.
The first time head coach is stepping right into the fire in Region 1-AAAAAA.
It won't be easy to get back to the playoffs either. Anders says of 96 players on the team, only 16 are seniors.
With so many young players, Anders and the Blue Devils have spent much of this offseason perfecting the little things, which he says is the key to competing in this region.
“You have to eliminate mistakes, presnap penalties and things like that. We have to be great on assignment. Make sure everybody knows they're doing, and just be fundamentally sound,” he says. “It's just a constant grind. You just have to reiterate the things over and over and over and the kids buy into it.”
While the team will be young on both sides of the ball, Anders likes the weapons he has offensively.
“Barry Bennett, our running back, rushed for a thousand yards last year. He's a workhorse,” Anders says. “We have depth at receiver. The receiver guys that we have all do a great job, so we've been real pleased in that area.”
Bennett, the senior back, has his sights set on 1500 rushing yards this season, and he believes he has the offensive line to do it.
“I trust them. They're so good right now,” he raves. “I can tell the way they practice from last year to this year, there's a whole big change. From the way they line up to the tempo, everything's just different.”
Tift County opens the season August 21 at Henry County.
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