Blue Ridge underclassmen matured from playing time last year

By Garrett Mitchell, Staff Reporter
Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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Zach Nunamacher, a senior, returns to give solid help on the offensive line.

Zach Nunamacher, a senior, returns to give solid help on the offensive line.


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The Blue Ridge Tigers enter the season with a blend of experience and youth that Head Coach Shane Clark hopes will carry his team to the next level.

Preseason begins Friday and the regular season is only four weeks away on Aug. 28.

After starting the 2014 campaign 6-2, Blue Ridge lost its final three games, including its first round playoff game against eventual 3A state champion South Pointe.

Injuries played a major role in the Tigers' late season swoon, but on the flipside are the young junior varsity players who gained valuable playing time in the starters' absences.

Blue Ridge hopes that will translate into a successful run towards a region title and beyond this year. Clark sat down with GreerToday.com to talk about the upcoming season.

Q: How many offensive and defensive starters are you returning from last year's team?

A:We have about five on both sides of the ball that are returning starters. A couple of guys that we've had that have been primarily one side of the ball may end up playing a little bit on both sides, so that's where we are with that.

Q: What will be your base offense and defense?

A: We'll still be spread offensively. Defensively we're going to be very multiple this year, give a lot of different looks for people to deal with, so it'll be a little mix and match of everything defensively.

Q: Who are some of the top returning players fans should watch out for?

A: John Patrick is returning as a free safety. He'll be a four-year starter there. John's a headhunter. He's got a nose for the football and is a very solid player and great leader for us. Also, Vonta Jenkins is back. Vonta was more on the defensive side of the ball last year and he did play some running back to help us behind Melvin (Smith). He'll be our primary runner. On the defensive line James Martin is back for us as a senior. We're looking for some big things out of James. On the offensive line we've got a couple of guys returning. Zack Nunamacher and Chase Bradshaw are returning starters and we're looking to see if we can get some good leadership out of those guys as well.

Q: Quarterback Jay Urich is no longer here. Who will step in and take his place?

A: Our quarterback is going to be a sophomore, Jake Smith. He's a very good young athlete and left-handed guy. It's very different for me to have a left-handed quarterback. It changes a little bit about your school of thought on how you do things but he's progressed very well through the spring and summer so we're looking for him to kind of take control and help lead the team.

Q: What will be the biggest strengths of this team?

A: Being as young as we're going to be, what we've done this summer, the experience we've been able to gain together, the kids who have been committed, we're going to rely heavily on those guys to help take over and lead some of those guys who are a little more inexperienced. One thing that I've noticed and one thing I've enjoyed since I've been at Blue Ridge is the work ethic that the kids do have. They put the time in and they'll give you everything they've got. We'll fight hard with what we have.

Q: What are your expectations for the 2015 Blue Ridge Tigers?

A: I think we'll have a very successful season. From the standpoint of watching them from when we got this group together, after graduation last year, to where they are now, they're leaps and bounds ahead of where they were. We just want to see them continue to get better every day.


Aug. 7 Scrimmage at Chesnee, 10 a.m.

Aug. 13 vs. Chesnee (Wolverine Classic), 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 15 vs. Broome (Landrum Jamboree), 6 p.m.

Aug. 18 Scrimmage at Landrum, 6 p.m.

Aug. 21 vs. Woodmont  (The Ridge Jamboree), 6 p.m.

2015 Schedule

All games 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 28 vs. Wade Hampton

Sept. 4 at J.L. Mann

Sept. 11 at Stephens County

Sept. 18 vs. Eastside

Sept. 25 at Berea

Oct. 2 vs. Emerald

Oct. 9 at Travelers Rest

Oct. 16 at Southside

Oct. 23 at Chapman

Oct. 30 vs. Greer

Jayvee schedule

Aug. 27 C Team at Wade Hampton, 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 27 JV at Wade Hampton, 7 p.m.

Sept. 3 vs. J.L. Mann, 7 p.m.

Sept. 10 at Pickens, 6 p.m.

Sept. 17 at Eastside, 5:30 p.m.

Sept. 24 vs. Berea, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 at Emerald, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8 vs. Travelers Rest, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 vs. Southside, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 vs. Chapman, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29 at Greer, 7 p.m.





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