GRAVETTE There are two candidates competing to be named the starting quarterback at Gravette and Bill Harrelson has plenty of confidence in both of them.
That only adds to the difficult choice facing the Lions' fourth-year head coach.
"That's just going to make it hard for me the day I have to name a starter and name a backup," Harrelson says. "That's not a day I'm looking forward to."
Colton Davis ( Jr.) and Colton Moorman (Sr.) have been neck-and-neck since spring ball and throughout the summer, Harrelson says, in the competition to replace Ethan McKinzie.
Last year's 1-4A Conference Outstanding Back and a two-time All-State selection passed for nearly 4,000 yards and 49 touchdowns the last two years. Also a three-time All-State pitcher, he'll be playing next season for the baseball team at Central Arkansas.
Moorman is already a full-time starter on defense, earning All-Conference honors last season at defensive back. He was alsoMcKinzie's backup and has taken the most snaps at the varsity level. Davis led the junior varsity team during his sophomore season.
Both players, Harrelson says, have the passion and commitment to step in and continue the tradition that's been established here. Gravette is coming off a 9-3 season, was second in the 1-4A behind eventual state champion Shiloh Christian and made a second straight playoff appearance.
"We've got confidence in both of them, and that's a big deal," Harrelson says. "They've both been here all summer, showed up to work out, played in the 7-on-7s. Both have the understanding of the offense.
"Really I look for who improves on their weaknesses. Both have got their strong points and we know what they are. We're looking to see how they do on their weaknesses. If they improve on those then that'll give that guy an edge."
Gravette is 13-1 in conference play the last two seasons and won the league title outright with a 7-0 record in the history-making season of 2007 but the school lost a good senior groupthat formed the nucleus for most of that success.
"Yeah, we did," Harrelson says. "But the guys we've needed to step up and lead have so far. Colton Moorman, Dakota Lacy, David O'Brien, Nathan Ortmann, Nick Hendren......all those guys are returners. If they didn't start they played a lot."
The Lions put pads on for the first time Thursday, including another returning senior, Travis Eden.
Eden (6-foot-1, 205), an All-Conference sophomore after contributing at linebacker, receiver and running back, tore his ACL on the second play of the second quarter during a 51-19 victory against Gentry in Week 5.
Harrelson said in the spring that Eden - a bullish presence who bench presses 325 pounds - is as good a football player as there is anywhere. His presence is significant.
"We talk about that in the office a lot," Harrelson says. "He just plays with so much intensity. With his size and strength and playing so hard, we've got to have him on the field."
Eden looks recoveredphysically from the reconstructive surgery and Harrelson says the player doesn't seem to be having any problems recovering mentally, which can oftentimes be a roadblock for players coming back from a major knee injury.
Cody Montee, one of the heroes of last year's firstround playoff win, can expect his recruiting to pick up. With two full years of high school left, the stronglegged kicker is already hearing from Division I schools. "LSU is (aware of ) him, I know; they've sent him letters and they sent me a letter. He's been to a lot of kicking camps this summer and did real well and got some recognition there. Of course we had him punting with the wind (Tuesday) but he looked real good out here punting. You can tell he has a strong leg." Montee kicked a 25-yarder with 18 seconds left in Gravette's 37-35, come-from-behind win against Ashdown at Lion Stadium. He also kicked a 52-yarder during a preseason scrimmage last year....Gravette plays with Berryville at Lincoln in a preseason jamboree on Aug. 27.
News, Pages 8 on 08/12/2009