Fayetteville ended a successful spring football campaign with their annual spring game last Friday night.
The team has seen a lot of change since last fall with the biggest change coming at quarterback. For the first time in five years an Allen will not be under center.
“There is nobody that can be an Austin or Brandon Allen they need to be themselves,” Fayetteville coach Daryl Patton said. “I thought Mitch Marshall came out and did a really good job. He threw some really nice passes.”
Marshall took a majority of the first teams snaps in the spring game. Filling the shoes of Austin Allen isn’t going to be an easy task but Marshall said he is ready for the challenge.
“Austin was a great quarterback and a good friend who I learned a lot from,” said Marshall. “I am just trying to do my best out here.”
Another big change this year for the bulldogs is the defense. Defensive Coordinator Brian Early left the program to join Bret Bielema’s staff at Arkansas. He was replaced in March by Keith Fimple.
Fimple spent the last seven years as defensive coordinator at Southside. Patton is pleased with how both Fimple and the team have adjusted to the change.
“When you look at the big picture we have put in about 40 percent of our defense,” said Patton. “We have a lot to put in during the summer and into the fall, but the kids are really reacting to it well.”
Learning a whole new defense can be a daunting task for a team but the athletes have embraced it.
“Coming in it was pretty scary thinking that all the stuff we learned would be replaced,” said Senior Tres Tucker. “A lot of the things Coach Fimple runs this year is exactly like what Coach Early ran last year. Its just a little bit different, different calls, different names, but I think we picked it up pretty nice.”
With spring ball complete the team heads into off-season workouts. They know if they want to win a third straight state title they have a lot of work to do before the season starts.
“We are going to have to work hard.” said Tucker. We have to come out here everyday this summer and work as hard as we can. We need to focus on what we have to do today and not do tomorrow. We have to get a lot better.”