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John Essex coach pleased with successful spring

DEMOPOLIS &045; John Essex football coach Fentress Means had nothing but praise for his team following the completion of its spring workouts and jamboree game. The Hornet squad suited up 28 players for its exhibition contest against Coffeeville, more than double the number that filled out the 2007 roster.

While his team&8217;s 28-8 victory in that game marked considerable progress on the field, it is his players&8217; work away from the gridiron that most pleases Means.

The new-look Hornets were able to muster 357 yards of total offense in the game, including 238 all-purpose yards from young quarterback Latrell Griffin.

The Hornet signal-caller, a freshman in the fall, completed four of his five pass attempts for 136 yards and two touchdowns while carrying the ball 12 times for 102 yards and a trip to the end zone.

Two of Griffin&8217;s four completions were to emerging wideout Zackary Fluker, who hauled in two catches for 99 yards, including a 67-yarder to score the game&8217;s first touchdown just before half.

Freshman Antonio Bennett also provided a security blanket to Griffin, catching two passes for 37 yards and a touchdown in addition to toting the rock four times for 46 yards and recording four tackles on the defensive side. Junior Willie Daniels accounted for the team&8217;s other touchdown on a two-yard run while Tony Hill averaged more than five yards per carry on his five touches.

His team was one play from shutting out Coffeeville. Means believes had he not sent his safety on a blitz, the Hornets would have maintained the goose egg on the visitors&8217; side of the scoreboard.

Daniels, a linebacker, recorded seven and a half tackles and forced a fumble during the exhibition.

Fellow sophomores Taveras Griffin and Hill each made an impression, racking up nearly a dozen tackles between them while freshman LaVaughn Terry brought down five ball carriers. Preston Parker recorded four tackles while Patrick Griffin and Zameke Fluker each recovered a fumble.

If the new attitude that seems to permeate the roster is any indication, the second-year Hornet coach should have little problem motivating his players to such an extent.