Pats diagnose needs in Thomasville loss

Published 9:17 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

LINDEN – Just days removed from his team’s 27-18 jamboree loss to Thomasville, Andro Williams was upbeat about the Patriots’ spring work period.

“I felt like it was very effective,” Williams said of the 10-day spring practice period allowed by the AHSAA. “It allowed us to see some things we needed to see.”

Linden entered the spring with the knowledge that it needed to identify starters at key positions on both sides of the ball.

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Among those vacancies was the quarterback spot manned in 2008 by graduating senior Ajalon Bruno. Throughout the spring, upcoming freshman Anthony Robinson figured to be the frontrunner to take the position due to his experience as the Pats’ backup a season ago.

“He’ll be able to make good decisions for us back there at quarterback,” Williams said after seeing Robinson lead the LHS offense against Thomasville. “He’s going to be a facilitator for us.”

Robinson went 5-for-8 for 83 yards and two touchdowns through the air, finding upcoming senior Larente Taylor for both end zone strikes. Robinson also added the only rushing score of the game for either team with a 20-yard run.

In addition to the strong performance of Robinson, Williams said he was pleased with the play of the team’s other quarterback candidate, upcoming junior Gerald Bruno. The efforts of the tandem underscored the squad’s depth at one of its primary offensive positions.

In addition to the quarterback spot, Williams and his staff entered the spring with the hopes of identifying its primary weapons in the ground game. According to Williams, who is now beginning his third season with the program, the spring sessions served their purpose in aiding in the emergence of a pair of backs.

“I think Keiunta Goodwill and Julian Little did well against what we were seeing (in Thomasville),” Williams said.

Goodwill toted the ball 12 times while Little carried it four. One of Williams’ only regrets stemming from the game was his own inability to get Little more touches.

“I wanted to do a better job of mixing them up,” Williams said. “That’s on me.”

Goodwill and Little found a complement in Gerald Bruno, who had 51 total yards on two catches and one run from his wingback position.

Defensively, the Patriots were focused on identifying personnel and developing depth in the secondary. The pass-happy attack employed by Thomasville Friday night helped to exploit some of the weaknesses of Linden’s young defensive backfield.

“We need to learn how to find the ball in the air,” Williams said of the secondary’s struggles on the night.

Despite the occasional shortcomings of the group, Williams reported being pleased with the individual efforts of some of the unit’s players.

“Anthony Robinson, I knew he was going to be able to step up and handle the pressure in the secondary,” Williams said of the eighth-grader who is also seeking to fill Ajalon Bruno’s old position on the defensive side of the ball.

Supplementing the defensive play of Robinson were Taylor and Gerald Bruno, who joined with linebacker Terris Lewis to lead the team in tackles.

Up front, Williams’ team was plagued by a lack of depth.

“We played high on the defensive line and offensive line, too,” Williams said of a group that suffered late in the game from having to play both ways. Williams said the Patriots will spend a portion of their summer workouts developing depth along the defensive and offensive lines in an effort to prevent as many players from playing both sides of the ball. Additionally, strength and conditioning will be a primary focus of Linden’s offseason program.

“We’ve got some kids that are going to go out and play hard,” Williams said. “We’ve got some small intangibles that are going to take some time.”