Around the SEC: Hoke looks to fill huge void
by By Shawn Stinson
RAEFORD — Hoke County coach Milton Butts is in the same boat as many of his Southeastern Conference peers this season — forced to replace a key offensive player.
During the previous three seasons, the Bucks relied on Detrez Newsome. The running back responded by putting up eye-popping numbers week-in and week-out, finishing his senior year with 37 touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards on the ground, despite having defenses zero in on him.
“He is one of the best ones I have had,” Butts said. “He made you look good, even if you don’t know what you were doing.”
Now that Newsome has graduated, Butts is left with a big void to fill on offense. If Butts can find a suitable replacement or replacements for Newsome, then Hoke could be able to challenge Richmond Senior and Scotland for SEC supremacy.
One player who helped ease Newsome’s workload last season was quarterback Geoffrey Thompson. Butts knows in order to match last year’s success, Thompson will have to be able to pass more effectively to stop opponents from crowding the box to stop the run.
“He’s been practicing throwing the ball,” Butts said. “We have to mature offensively and the offensive line always seems to be the last thing that comes together. It helped Thompson having Detrez there because we could do some more things. We have the team speed, we have to find a way to get the ball to them.
“We have to get better at every position. That’s really the only thing that is important right now.”
Butts hopes to see that improvement when Hoke kicks off its season at Ashley Friday night. He wasn’t pleased with the defensive effort against Terry Sanford in the annual Two Rivers Football Jamboree.
“People are getting the edge on us too easy,” Butts said to the Fayetteville Observer. “We’ve got to get a lot tougher. We’ve got a lot of new people. We better get it together because we’ve got an option team the first game.”
Looking to provide that toughness is linebacker Jamal Darden, a three-year starter, who Butts “expects big things out of him.” Butts is also looking to defensive end Tobias Edge-Campbell and defensive tackle LaQuest Peterkin to step up as well.
“We have to be a tough team, it’s not about the effort getting to the football,” Butts said. “It’s about getting up after you get knocked down.”
After their season opener, the Bucks will travel to Sun Valley before welcoming Seventy-First and South View to Raz Autry Stadium. Hoke will open its SEC schedule at home against Richmond following a road game at E.E. Smith, an open date and a contest at Westover.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.
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