Excitement is in the air in Van Buren for the 2019 football season. Even though, the Pointers lose head coach Casey Dick, they are left with 13 returning starters coming back from the 2018 season. Crosby Tuck takes over for Dick this season and inherits the nucleus for what could be a dangerous 2019 team.
The Van Buren offense will continue to work out of the spread formation. Van Buren will utilize multiple quarterbacks throughout the course of the season, the first of those being Gary Phillips. Phillips passed for two touchdowns against a talented Fayetteville defense last season and should be a weapon in the passing game. Junior Jaiden Henry will also get an opportunity at the quarterback position. Henry is an accurate passer but is also considered a dangerous runner as well. Henry rushed for over 450 yards last season. The quarterback position is in good hands with both Phillips and Henry providing solid options at the position.
Crosby Tuck and the Pointers will have some consistency at the running back position. Brayden Rivas should see the majority of carries for the Pointers this season after rushing for almost 500 yards last season. In the victory over Rogers, Rivas racked up three touchdowns on the ground and helped lead the Pointers to a 30-20 win over the Mounties. If the threat from the passing game can take pressure off the run, this could be a dangerous offense to contend with in 2019.
With the Pointers running primarily out of the spread formation, the passing game will take priority. Van Buren has a one of the most talented wide receivers in the 7-A in the form of Jude Bartholomew. Batholomew has good speed and racked up almost 800 yards receiving last season. Another receiving option is Maury Newton, Newton has the speed and makes the plays to keep the drives going.
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The offensive line for the Pointers is not the biggest in the 7-A West but it is an athletic group. Pointers' fans should look for Jackson Hurst to hold down either the guard or the tackle spot. Van Buren fans should look for the offensive line to continue to gel as a unit and to improve as the year progresses.
The Pointers' defense has the potential to be the most improved unit of the team this season. Van Buren fans should look for the defensive line to be a disruptive force. Defensive end Mile Kuykendall is a player that should have a big season, after racking up 18 tackles last season. D. J. Riley will likely see time at both the defensive end and tackle positions and has been a force the past few seasons. Riley was in on 40 tackles and 2 sacks last season and has the potential to improve upon those numbers this season.
From the linebacker position, Pointers' fans should look for Devin Swearingen to be the playmaker on the defensive side of the ball once again this season. Swearingen had 90 tackles and forced two fumbles last season. T.J. Dyer will see some time at the linebacker spot this season and should cause problems for the opposing offense. The linebacking corps should be a unit that causes problems for opposing offenses throughout the season.
The Pointers' secondary is an experienced group. David Evans returns to man one of the cornerback spots for Van Buren. Evans racked up over 50 tackles last season and picked off three passes. Trent Ball is returning at the free safety spot and is looking to improve upon a season where he had 54 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. The Van Buren secondary may be one of the most talented units on the team as the 2019 season approaches.
A playoff appearance is not out of the question for the Pointers this season. Van Buren fans should expect some growing pains at the start, but this should be an exciting season for Crosby Tuck and the Pointers.
The 2018 season was a tough one for the Rogers Mounties. Rogers did make a playoff appearance but getting defensive stops at critical times could have put them in a better position to make a playoff run. The 2019 Mounties are a team that has the potential to make some noise in the 7-A West. However, getting stops on the defensive side of the ball will be key this season to a deeper playoff run.
The offensive side of the ball will continue to be an explosive and dynamic weapon for the Mounties this season. Quarterback Hunter Loyd has been under the radar for the past couple of seasons, but college scouts have taken notice of him in recent months. Loyd has picked up offers from Tennessee-Martin, Louisiana-Monroe, and Arkansas State during the offseason. Loyd has the size and arm strength to really cause problems for opposing defenses this season.
Most of the 7-A West is currently running a variation of the spread offense and the Rogers Mounties are no different. The Rogers running game will be a consistent facet of the team this season as well. Mounties running back Sammy Zamarron is returning for his senior season, after rushing for over 800 yards last season. Having a strong running game will help relieve the pressure Loyd opposing defenses another layer of complexity to worry about.
The Mounties have talent in the receiving corps as well, and they have plenty of weapons for Loyd. Rogers' fans should look for Mason Ross to get plenty of targets this season. Ross is the perfect fit for the slot receiver position and will get a look from plenty of Division 1 programs before national signing day. Another wide out that should see plenty of targets is Aron Rendon. Strides made over the summer should make Rendon even more dangerous from the receiving position.
The defensive side of the ball is where the Mounties need help. Mounties' fans should look for Christian Bruce to be a disruptive influence along the defensive line at both the tackle and end positions. Bruce is a strong player and will create problems for opposing offensive lines. The defensive line should be a solid unit for the Mounties, if they can spend time in the offensive backfield and are able to consistently force 3 and outs.
Rogers has some undersized, but solid, linebackers coming into the 2019 season. Mounties' fans should look for outside linebacker Grayson Daniels to continue making plays. The 7-A West will also likely get a look at Marion Slater this season after he led the junior high in tackles last season. The linebacking corps is young but they are a talented group with the potential to quickly learn on the job.
The Rogers' secondary has been picked apart by opposing 7-A West quarterbacks over the past few years. However, the Mounties have found a steady contributor in the secondary in the form of cornerback Jordan McKibbon. McKibbon has the instincts and the speed to prevent the big play in the passing game. Mounties' fans should look for an improved secondary and improved overall defensive play.
The 7-A West is a powerful conference and will not be easy for the Mounties to contend with this season. Fans should expect Rogers to make the playoffs but how far they go depends greatly upon the match ups. An upset or two in conference play would help make for an easier November for the Mounties.