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FOOTBALL IN HALL 2019: West Hall confident it has talent to compete in Region 7-4A
West Hall
West Hall head coach Krofton Montgomery and two of his weapons on offense running back Solomon Riley, right, and quarterback Clayton Jenkins. - photo by Scott Rogers

Head coach Krofton Montgomery is looking to take his young team at West Hall High and find a way to make the state playoffs, something it missed out on last season.

It won’t be an easy task, though, as the Spartans work their way through a tough Region 7-4A that includes powerhouses like back-to-back state champion Blessed Trinity and Marist.

In his second year as head coach at West Hall, Montgomery said he’s hoping his team can build off some of the “high points” from last year and be an even better team this time around.

“What we’re focusing on is we want to play a lot better defense and we want to have a lot more solid special teams,” Montgomery said. “We were able to score some points at times last year and offensively did some good things … but (we’re) really, really, really focusing on tackling, focusing on defense and focusing on being very solid on special teams.”

5 things to watch

Special Teams

Montgomery brought in a new coach this season to work with the special teams unit. It’s an aspect of the game that sometimes gets pushed to the side in high school, but for the Spartans, Montgomery isn’t going to let that happen.

“We’re making special teams a priority,” Montgomery said. “It cost us in a few games last year, and in high school, it shifts the momentum so fast and we cannot afford that at all.”

He brought in Wayne Jones to make sure West Hall keeps that momentum in special teams situations.

Jones will serve as the special teams coordinator, as well as the secondary coach. Montgomery felt that he needed somebody else on the defensive side of the ball that could take over the defense, if need be, but most importantly, focus on special teams.

He said that although Jones will be in charge of special teams, he won’t be the only one involved.

Apart from bringing on Jones, the way Montgomery plans to ensure his special teams unit is successful this season is to get every other coach involved, too.

“It’s a huge priority,” Montgomery said. “So we’re spending more time on it and just making sure we’re solid and have gone through everything we can to shore it up.”

Young team

Admittedly, West Hall has a young team — a “very, very young team,” according to Montgomery.

“We do not have a ton of seniors coming back with a lot of playing experience,” Montgomery said. “We don’t have a lot of upperclassmen.”

The most experience comes on the offensive line. Other than that, the Spartans will be fairly new around the field and it might be most apparent in the secondary.

Montgomery is replacing all four starters from last year and hopes Jones will be the key to “breeding competition” to find the best players he can.

The Spartans’ linebacker unit is young, too. It’s full of sophomores in Caleb Baker and Talil Blackwell along with freshman Nick Sturm, but Montgomery is optimistic.

“Those three guys are extremely talented,” Montgomery said. “They don’t look like sophomores, but they’re still learning the scheme, learning how to play at the fastest level they can.”

Those sophomores will be looking to senior linebacker Caden Collins to lead them throughout the season.

Defensive line

Montgomery is getting back to something he said he used to do by taking over the defensive line this season and coaching it himself.

“That was a critical issue last year against a lot of our run teams,” Montgomery said.

While he said the Spartans did well creating turnovers and getting to the quarterback with some of their pressure packages, he said they weren’t very good at stopping the run.

“That’s been a big emphasis (this year),” Montgomery said. “... is learning how to play gap-integrity type football.”

The team scrimmaged North Hall in the spring and Montgomery said that was “the best thing” the team could have done. With the Trojans’ experienced offensive line going up against the Spartans’ mostly-young defensive line, Montgomery was able to look back at the film and show his players what can happen when they focus too much on rushing the passer.

Montgomery will be working with juniors Liam Thorne and Binh Hoang at defensive end, while trying to work in freshman Andrew Malin — a 6-foot-3, 230-pound player — as much 

as possible.

Senior Thomas Tran will work the nose tackle position.

They’ll all be looking to senior Logan Ormerod, who Montgomery said is the “Swiss Army knife” of the line, to lead the way.

Offensive strength

Montgomery said the offense “starts and stops with Solomon Riley,” the Spartans’ senior running back who is “very, very talented.”

“When he sees daylight, he can take it to the house,” Montgomery said. “He’s strong and has worked really hard. He’s definitely the centerpiece of our team and we use him in a lot of different facets.”

When Riley doesn’t have the ball in his hands, junior quarterback Clayton Jenkins, will be looking to build on his 1,000-yard season, which was really only six games after getting the starting nod midway through the year.

Lucky for him, Montgomery said Jenkins will have a target in junior wide receiver Rodrigo Lopez who may come as a surprise to people who haven’t been around the team this summer.

“He’s a 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver who has big-time playmaking ability,” Montgomery said. “He’s extremely strong and he’s one of those kids who just grew a little bit, really filled out, hit the weight room real hard and is just a very, very explosive athlete.”

The ones protecting it all up front will be senior guard Jaden Neal, senior center Jacob Gault, senior tackle Devin Meeks, Hadden Schnell and Tran.

“They’ve hit the weights hard and it’s their time to come out and show what they’ve got,” Montgomery said.

Moving away from Wing-T

The Wing-T has long been the offense of many high school teams, but Montgomery has seen the times changing over the years and started to stray away from the Wing-T last season. Now, he said his offense is a full-fledged hybrid operation, passing about 50% of the time and running about 50% of the time. 

“You’ve got to be able to get athletes in space,” Montgomery said. “The game has changed so much.”

He said the team has come together under the hybrid scheme and has adapted well to it. In his second year at the helm, Montgomery is ready to continue the transition.

“I like the direction of the team,” Montgomery said. “I like the chemistry. It’s really good this year. It’s one of those things where they seem to really play for each other and now you’re just looking at if the physicality can really match it.”

Schedule

Friday COMMERCE

Aug. 30 JOHNSON

Sept. 6 at Jefferson

Sept. 13 DAWSON COUNTY

Sept. 27 BLESSED TRINITY*

Oct. 4 DENMARK*

Oct. 11 MARIST*

Oct. 18 at White County*

Nov. 1 at Flowery Branch*

Nov. 8 at Chestatee*

*region games

Roster

2. Talil Blackwell RB/LB So.

3. Caden Collins LB/RB Sr.

4. Sam Holcomb DB/WR Jr.

5. Gavin Hanville DB/WR Sr.

6. Jaden White DB/WR So.

8. Zach Lingle WR/DB Sr.

9. Tad Davidson DB/WR Jr.

10. Melkin Avelar WR/DB Jr.

12. Matthew Griffin DB/WR So.

13. Rodrigo Lopez DB/WR Jr.

14. Nick Sturm LB/TE Fr.

15. Clayton Jenkins QB Sr.

16. Colton Smith WR Sr.

19. Zach Stephens QB/DE Fr.

20. Shaun Estrich DB/WR Sr.

21. Caleb Baker LB/WR So.

22. Andy Mayo WR/DB So.

23. Lukas Fernandez RB/DB Fr.

24. Andrew Malin RB/DE Fr.

26. Alijah Porchia LB/RB Jr.

28. Josiah Henriques WR/DB Jr.

29. Hunter Samples WR/DB Sr.

30. Brady Clark RB/LB Fr.

32. Jonathan Hall DB/WR Jr.

33. Preston Smith DB/WR So.

34. Solomon Riley DB/RB Sr.

35. Henry Morgan RB/LB Fr.

38. Brennan Hoskeer WR/DB Fr.

39. Josiah Brown WR/DB Jr.

40. Diego Lorenzo K/WR Jr.

41. Dakota Clark RB/LB So.

42. Liam Thorne TE/LB Jr.

43. Anthony Rodriguez LB Jr.

44. Brian Ayers LB/RB Jr.

45. Tyler Maynard RB/LB Jr.

46. Will Wagner LB/RB Fr.

47. Cristian Alvarez LB/RB Fr.

48. Blake McCrary LB/RB So.

49. Nicholas McMillan WR/DB So.

50. Matthew Harkins OL/DL Fr.

51. Jacob Gault OL/DL Sr.

52. John Jones OL/DL Jr.

53. Adrian Gonzalez OL/DL Fr.

54. Noah Doran OL/DL Jr.

55. Jaden Neal OL/DL Sr.

56. Mason Tuttle OL/DL Fr.

57. Regan Byrd OL/DL So.

58. Garret McCray OL/DL Jr.

60. AJ O’Bryant OL/DL Fr.

61. Jonathan Rivett DL Sr.

62. Zach Martin OL/DL Sr.

63. Binh Hoang OL/DL Jr.

64. Ryan McMillian OL/DL Fr.

66. Hadden Schnell OL/DL Sr.

67. Mario Bonilla OL/DL Jr.

69. Stephen Osokalo OL/DL Sr.

72. Avery Milligan OL/DL Sr.

73. Will Smallwood OL Fr.

74. Sam Pettit OL Fr.

75. Devin Meeks OL/DL Sr.

76. Thomas Tran OL/DL Sr.

77. Jose Gonzalez OL/DL Sr.

78. Tito Hernandez OL/DL Fr.

80. David Rodriguez WR/DB So.

81. Johnathan Mast WR/DB So.

82. Jorge Segovia Fr.

83. Nathan Bennett WR/DB Fr.

84. Noah Legault WR/DB Fr.

85. Logan Ormerod TE/DE Sr.

86. Blaze Charles K So.

87. Alex Doster RB/LB So.

88. Wilfredo Castillo WR/DB So.

Regional events