JV FOOTBALL PREVIEWL: Dual Threat QB Drew Harding Leads The Saline Team

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Last year athletes all over the state and country faced adversity due to the uncertainties created by COVID-19. While some athletes were unable to play in other states, in Michigan, they were able to play after a lengthy delay. Fortunately, the JV football team made the best of their opportunities with convincing wins over Monroe, Skyline, and Grand Blanc. 

Looking into the 2021-22 football season, the JV program looks to improve upon their 3-3 record from last season. The JV Hornets are coached by all the varsity coaches, most notably Coach Mackenzie Lyons as offensive coordinator and Coach Duane Wilson as defensive coordinator.

Due to the "Fifth Quarter" rule put in place last season, some players will be able to compete at both the JV and Varsity levels. Since players can play five quarters, (in a mix of JV and varsity competitions) many of the juniors this season will have the opportunity to get more reps with the JV squad and some sophomores may have the opportunity to get varsity reps.

The JV program will continue to grind towards the same goal they have every season, preparing players to compete at the Varsity level. JV players get coached by varsity coaches during practices throughout the year, learning similar plays and coverages, and competing with varsity athletes along with their JV teammates. Players continue to have the same goal year after year, beat Bedford. Although beating our rival may seem to be the primary goal of the players, the ultimate goal continues to be to prepare players to play on Friday nights under the lights at Hornet Stadium.

Furthermore, one of the strengths of the JV program is how well they are coached. While players at other schools may have coaches specifically designated to coaching JV players, the Hornets get access and the opportunity to work with varsity coaches. They get similar attention to the varsity players during Saturday morning film sessions and also have dedicated practice time to work out the kinks in their offense and defense. With all that being said, the JV Hornets continue to be one of the best coached JV teams in the SEC conference.

Along with the strengths of the JV program, there are always challenges playing at a higher level. The transition between freshman football and JV football is always a bit challenging. While the freshman team plays with similar concepts to the JV and Varsity levels, there is still a lot of learning that has to take place during the shift. Fortunately, as stated earlier, the JV squad has access to all of the varsity coaches which makes the process a bit smoother.

Offensively, the Hornets will be led by sophomore quarterback Drew Harding. Harding is a dual-threat quarterback who isn't afraid to throw the deep ball or tuck the ball and run. He started at QB for the freshman team last season, connecting with receivers for 8 touchdowns and rushing for 300+ yards. 

"Andrew is a hard-working and athletic quarterback," said Coach Joel Przygodski. "He has the ability to make plays from inside and outside the pocket, and I am excited to see him develop over this season."  

On defense, the Hornets have a solid group of linebackers that will lead the squad. Andrew Black, Ryan Stein, and Blake Blackburn are three JV linebackers to look out for during the season. Having a strong core of linebackers to assist in run support and pass coverage can make or break a defense. 

"Linebackers are essential to keeping the defense on the same page," Coach Hunter Leslie said. "It always starts with D-Line upfront, they clear way for the linebackers to flow to the ball, and linebackers are ultimately responsible for communicating with the D-Line and secondary players." 

The starting lineup for the JV squad varies week to week. At the JV level, the goal is to develop players as best as possible, so players are rotated in and out throughout the game. By the end of the game, most players receive a good amount of reps and continue to build on what they experience in games and practices throughout the season. 

The JV Hornets will face Hudsonville in their opening game of the season at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 26 at Hornet Stadium.

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