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Linden looking for leaders

LINDEN – If 7-on-7 competitions led to state titles, Linden would be a force in 2011. The Patriots played six games at Prattville Wednesday, winning each of the contests.

The Pats downed Slocomb, Stanhope-Elmore, Marbury and Prattville in 7-on-7 play while beating Carver-Montgomery twice on the day.

“I thought we moved around pretty good,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said, downplaying the significance of the competitions.

Williams did point out that opposing coaches and players came away from the scrimmages impressed with the arm and accuracy of junior quarterback Anthony Robinson.

“They were impressed with Anthony Robinson out there stroking that ball,” Williams chuckled. “I know that.”

While the Patriots enjoyed the afternoon, the real work lies ahead for a team that is still trying to get over the hump and make it to a state championship game for the first time.

“We were just looking for a little conditioning and just trying to get some continuity,” Williams said of the focus of the summer activities. “We’ve got a lot of new faces on the field in the skill position spots.”

As the team gets ready for its next summer scrimmage, Williams will likely be looking for more consistency across the board.

“It seemed like everybody played in spurts,” Williams said. “We’ve got to get more consistent with everybody.”

Other than Robinson, the Patriots’ biggest standout on the day was likely two-way star Terris Lewis. The senior starts at linebacker and tight end for the Patriots and may see an expanded role in the offense in 2011.

“If I had to call out a name, Terris Lewis is your guy,” Williams said. “I thought he played well on both sides of the ball and was consistent.”

As the summer wears on, Linden must build depth as it had the toughest graduation of the Andro Williams Era in May.

“Defensively, we’ve got to get them some more reps and build some depth on that side of the ball,” Williams said.

The Patriots return starters Kevan Rembert, Chris Rogers and Lewis to the front seven while running incumbent first-teamers Julian Little and Robinson out in the secondary. The front seven could see help in the form of Jorian Ravizee or Marquis Shelton if the pair can continue putting together productive offseason workouts.

Offensively, the question marks are scattered for Linden in 2011. The team will be looking to replace two starters along the offensive line while also filling a bevy of skill position holes after the losses of Gerald Bruno, Najee Bright and two-time Class 1A Back of the Year Kendarius Fritts.

Fritts’ shoes will likely be filled by a trio of backs as Shelton and Little will split carries with upstart freshman Samuel Monroe.

“We don’t have a lead guy,” Williams said. “It’s going to be all three of them.”

Shauka Reese and Ravizee figure to get looks on the edge while Lewis may be moved around or used on more deep patterns to help the passing game.

“He’s going to be one we’re going to stretch the field with. We’ll split him out too,” Williams said.

As it is most years, the Patriots greatest struggle may be identifying its leaders. “We’ve got to mature there,” Williams said. “Our leaders have got to mature and carry our football team.”