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Patriots to face two teams in jamboree test

Linden gets its final preseason test Friday night when it hosts Hillcrest-Evergreen and Escambia County in a Jamboree game. Head coach Andro Williams is hopeful the two squads will provide his Patriots a solid test as they ready for Class 1A play.
“You want people that are going to try to do things right,” Williams said. “You go out and look for teams that will play you. But you really want teams that will do things the right way.”
Williams said the level of competition is not as important for Jamboree games. Rather, he is more focused on his Patriots getting a live look at another team.
“We aren’t so much concerned with the competition part as much as just trying to do what we do,” Williams said. “We like to see different looks offensively and defensively.”
Williams’ Pats are coming off a 2009 season in which they went 12-1, falling to eventual state champion Brantley 13-6 in the third round of the Class 1A state playoffs.
“We need to have gotten better this offseason,” Williams said. “We need to have a good offseason where e got better as a whole.”
The Patriots return most of their 2009 team, with key losses coming at the center, receiver and safety positions. However, Williams reported those three spots have been filled admirably by two players.
At the center spot, sophomore Dewayne Gilmore has stepped in to replace the graduated Terrance Lucas.
“Up front, we lost our center from last year,” Williams said. “And our center right now may be ahead of everybody else on the offensive line.”
The 2009 team saw then senior Larente Taylor as a playmaker at both the free safety and wide receiver spots. Since his departure, senior Najee Bright has taken over both those roles.
“Najee is doing a great job,” Williams said. “He has stepped up to the plate and opened my eyes up on some things. He is not going to be Larente Taylor. But he brings his own style to the position. He runs crisp routes. He will make some big plays for us over the course of the season.”
Another key element to the Linden offense’s success will be the continued development of returning sophomore starting quarterback Anthony Robinson, who earned an all-state nod for his versatility as a freshman.
“We’re just trying to put some more responsibility on him,” Williams said. “He is working to try to make the people around him better.”
While Robinson will quarterback the offense, junior Terris Lewis will be in charge of running the defense.
“He has picked up a couple pounds,” Williams said of the linebacker who continues to develop physically despite already having impressed a number of coaches at the collegiate level. “He is trying to take on the role of being a leader for our football  team (along with senior) Gerald Bruno.”
That group will get its first chance to make a new impression Friday night. The action starts at 6 p.m. when Hillcrest-Evergreen takes on Escambia County for two quarters before Linden takes the field for consecutive halves.
“We want to see them execute what we do offensively and defensively,” Williams said. “That is one of our goals this year is to try to put the work in up front.”