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SPRING BEARS: HOCO COMES BACK WITH HIGH POTENTIAL

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Joshua Miller/Sports Editor Wed, May 05, 2021
Day four of the Houston County Bears’ spring practice was put in the books on Monday and rather than detailing the fundamental work they’ve been putting in—what must be covered is this team’s makeup. Because this squad is could make some noise in the 6A classification.

Off the top, Houston is returning a horde of talent.

Defensive back Caleb Coley (who’s gained more attention from Power Five colleges recently), defensive linemen Larry Fields and Hunter Rizer, kicker Luke Rigby, along with offensive linemen Chandler Strong and Zachary Lyle each are returning All-Area players and rising seniors.

Running back Simeon Askew, another rising senior, was an All-Area caliber player but spent most snaps at safety last season. He sporadically toted the ball (413 yards with eight touchdowns on 78 carriers) while Tyler Williams took the bulk of the handoffs. Williams is gone now and it looks like Askew will assume his primary position this season.

Askew should be a very productive runner behind Houston’s offensive line. His blend of power and speed makes him a dynamic threat out of the backfield.

The Bears are also in the same predicament as last year, they need a starting quarterback. But the circumstances are quite different this time around.

Last season, the Bears had to scrounge up a quarterback in the middle of a pandemic. So senior Christian Lawhorn quickly converted into the position from wide receiver.

To take Lawhorn’s place this season is Antwann Hill Jr., a rising freshman who received an offer from the University of Georgia before taking a high school snap.

His high acclaim doesn’t just grant him the spot though, Hill must earn the starting job.

“We’ve got several quarterbacks,” said head coach Ryan Crawford. “Antwann’s obviously the guy who’s going to be with us. Ross Curbow has been in our program; he’s competing for the job. All of those guys are competing. I think that reps are so important right now—getting them on film, seeing what the guys can do and evaluating through this spring and going into the summertime.”

Region 1-6A high school football is a lot different than the local middle school teams Hill played against while at Mossy Creek. He still has plenty to learn and a lot to adjust to (but it’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t take over as triggerman).

Depending on the quarterback situation Crawford hopes to become a balanced offense. For that to happen, they must also have receivers.

Two guys that could develop into reliable options are rising seniors Laurence Hill and Davis Shaw. Both are probably itching for some targets after last year’s running play style.

Both of the offensive and defensive lines were crucial in the Bears’ success last season. They hung their hats on them and plan to do it again in 2021.

“The line of scrimmage is huge in this region, the league we play in and the schedule we play,” said Crawford. “So, I think last year we were pretty good up front and it showed. Then we had some injuries and it hurt us later in the season. Hopefully we can stay healthy, create some depth and keep those guys ready to go.”

Along with the four All-Area linemen already mentioned, defensive lineman Nijah Johnson could become an All-Area candidate this season as well.

Even more players will come along to fill out the team’s depth and insert their names into the starting lineup. Then they’ll all be put to the test in their spring game on May 14 against Peach County.

The Bears have the potential to be a force this year and this time leading up to August 13 will play a huge part in their success.

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