GRACEVILLE – The Graceville football team is once again entering the season with a roster lacking numbers but expects to fill positions with youth and more size.
The Tiger had a rebuilding season in 2020 under first-year head coach Randy Mckinnie, going 1-10 on the year, but, sophomore lineman, Mason Merrit, said he has high hopes for the new and improved roster.
“Last year wasn’t the best year,’ Merrit said. “And I feel good about this year so, I’m ready, I’m going to see what we can do this year.”
Coach Mckinnie is heading into his second season with the Tigers, and he said his goal is to get the team back to being an annual playoff program.
“These guys haven’t been there before,” Mckinnie said. “So they don’t know what it’s like to get there, so we are trying to push them there, and once they get the taste of it I think they’ll start getting there.”
The toughest challenge for the 2020 Tigers was a lack of depth, with many on the roster playing on both sides of the ball, and Merrit said it was difficult to keep up with opposing teams.
“We play different positions and you just don’t get a break,” Merrit said. “So you’re just working, working, working the whole game and you’re just tired and by the end of it, you’re just exhausted. So now we have people that we can sub in and it helps a lot.”
Graceville will once again have an extremely young roster this season, but they will be led on the offensive side of the ball by two veteran athletes in wide receiver Zephaniah Brunson and quarterback Anthony Watford.
“I think we can be pretty good this year, we have a lot of talent,” Watford said. “We are real athletic, we’re just young. So, it’s going to take us time, we got to be disciplined, and if we’re disciplined I feel like we can win a lot of games.”
In addition to a roster that was short staffed, last season, the Tigers did not have a weight room on campus for their team to use. This year, that has changed, and Coach Mckinnie said it has really shown.
“Definitely the offensive line,” Mckinnie said. “We used to average about 200 pounds, now we are up to at least 250-260 on the line. So, the offensive line is really going to stand out.”
With just one week remaining in fall camp, Merrit said the Graceville crew has just one goal in mind.
“Just win,” Merrit said. “Don’t get scared, just keep going, that’s about it.”
The Tigers will open up the preseason with a match against Jay and the regular season with a rivalry game at Chipley, on Friday, August 27.