COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Running game still a priority for Wicksburg | High school


JOHN JOHNSON

Wicksburg may have a bit of a different look on offense this upcoming season, but don’t expect the Panthers to get away from their bread and butter.

“We’re still going to do what Wicksburg has always done – pound it at you, but have some other stuff that we can go to as well,” Wicksburg coach Josh Cox said.

With a new offensive coordinator aboard in Richard Tisdale, the former head coach at Slocomb, there will likely be a few different looks.

“We’re kind of taking what I’ve always done and I guess you’d say marrying it to what he does,” Cox said. “It’s going to be a combination of his offensive philosophy and my offensive philosophy.”

But without a doubt, Wicksburg will put the ball in the hands of senior running backs Jaylen Murry and Charles Snyder quite often.

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“They are great players,” Cox said. “Jaylen has been our tailback for probably four years and Charles has been more of our speed guy. Both of them have been looked at by multiple colleges.

“It’s just a good couple of guys to have in the backfield for sure.”

Who will block for them isn’t such a sure bet.

Senior Collin Pitts returns as a starter on the line and Jacob Cox, who played fullback, is moving to an offensive tackle slot.

“Jacob Cox, my son, will be our strongest lineman this year, most likely,” Cox said. “Collin Pitts is another senior that played center for us last year and we moved him over to tackle.

“We’ve got some young guys coming up who are big, strong guys. Dylan Bayliss will fill one of those roles and Brodie Campbell. Evan Garst has really stepped up.

“We lost a couple of strong kids, but I believe our kids will be OK.”

The starting quarterback was also up in the air going into fall drills, although the return of JT Ackerman, who spent the last two years at Houston Academy and is now transferring back to Wicksburg as a senior, may solve that issue.

“He was in rec league with my son that I coached all the way up, then he left and went to HA for two years,” Cox said. “He’s a strong kid who has been working hard in the weight room.

“We’re actually rotating a few guys. JT has probably been getting the most reps lately because it’s not a secret we run the ball more than anything.

“Then I’ve got a ninth grader who is left-handed, Mason Burkhardt, who has looked real good. He throws the ball really well. He just needs some size on him to be able to run it.”

The defense will also have a new coordinator in former Charles Henderson and Daleville head coach Brad McCoy.

“We have an awesome staff,” Cox said. “It’s been a really good dynamic of all of us getting together and sharing our dynamics and trying to get an attack plan for this year.”

Seven starters return on defense for the Panthers.

Maddox Burkhardt is a senior middle linebacker who leads the way.

“He is going to be the heart of our defense,” Cox said. “He’s grown and is about 6-3 now and 200 pounds. He’s a big force right there in the middle.”

Logan Fowler returns as an outside linebacker and Jacob Cox is at defensive end. Snyder can play either outside linebacker or cornerback and Tyler Williams is a returning cornerback. Williams is also a returning starter on offense at wide receiver.

William Wright, a senior, and Isaac Murry, a sophomore, return at the defensive tackle slots.

“Reggie Knight is another kid that is going to play some defense and offense for us,” Cox said. “He’s an up and coming kid who is a pretty good player.”

Carter Meyers and Gabe Glover are both working as kickers.

>> Head coach: Josh Cox (9th year at Wicksburg and as a head coach, 52-35)

>> 2021 record: 7-4 overall, 4-2 in Class 3A, Region 2, first round of Class 3A state playoffs

>> 2021 results: Headland (W, 53-7); at Geneva County (L, 14-33); at Providence Christian # (W, 20-0); Northside Methodist (W, 54-28); at New Brockton # (W, 60 -18);at Rehobeth (W, 17-6);Daleville # (W, 66-22);at Opp # (L, 6-49);Houston Academy # (W, 23-14);Slocomb # (L , 7-14). STATE PLAYOFFS: at Trinity (L, 23-51)

>> Points scored/per game: 343/31.2

>> Points allowed/per game: 242/22.0

>> Returning offensive starters (5): OL Collin Pitts (Sr., 5-11, 220); RB Jaylen Murry (Sr., 6-1, 220); RB Charles Snyder (Sr., 5-11, 190); FB Jacob Cox (Sr., 5-11, 215); WR Tyler Williams (Sr., 6-0, 165)

>> Returning defensive starters (7): DL Jacob Cox (Sr., 5-11, 215); DL Isaac Murry (So., 6-2, 260); DL William Wright (Sr., 6-0, 240); LB Maddox Burkhardt (Sr.,6-3, 200); LB Logan Fowler (Jr., 5-10, 190); LB/CB Charles Snyder (Sr., 5-11, 190); DB Tyler Williams (Sr., 6-0, 165)

Aug. 19 at Houston Academy

# Denotes region contests

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