Secondary solid, but Saints search for QB

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; All it took was one season on the football field for Tripp Bryant to get his bearings back.

Last year on the gridiron for the junior in his first season at Trinity Episcopal was a learning one, especially since Bryant came from a program at Briarfield Academy was he was seldom-used to Trinity where everyone had to contribute.

Now he’s back working at cornerback this spring as part of an experience secondary with the Saints as the team hits the middle of its third week of spring workouts.

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&uot;That was the first time I played football in two or three years,&uot; said Bryant, who is also taking snaps at quarterback. &uot;I think I did all right. It was kind of rough. It took me a couple of weeks, but I kind of got the hang of it. I’m faster this year, and I think I’ll do a little bit better.&uot;

Bryant could team with returners from the fall to form a secondary that could be a solid unit for the team. Other areas are not as established &045; the linebackers may be the biggest question mark &045; but with Bryant moving from corner to safety and Clint Easom and Kris Ford at the corners.

Kyle Ketchings, Kyle Dunaway and Matthew Freeman are working at the linebacker spots.

&uot;Defensive backs will be a strength,&uot; Trinity head coach David King said. &uot;We’ve got all of our guys returning back there. We just feel Clint and Kris will be as good of cornerbacks as we’ll have in our district. (Linebackers) is going to be our biggest (worry). They’re all three good athletes and very tough, but they’ll be inexperienced. If they pan out, I think we’ll have a good defense.&uot;

The front line will have Stevan Ridley as anchor at noseguard, and the defense lost Cap White last year at linebacker along with three defensive linemen. What the unit may lack in experience or ability will have to made up in work ethic and hustle with the roster hovering around 14 or 15 so far this spring.

&uot;I think we’ll have a pretty strong defensive backfield this year,&uot; Bryant said. &uot;We probably won’t play that much zone. I think we’ll have a pretty good backfield.&uot;

Said King: &uot;Defensively, I feel we have a chance to be better than last year. That’s hard to believe because we lost some good players. If the players go out and we can put Stevan Ridley at noseguard, we’ll be really good on defense.&uot;

The other issues this spring for the Saints center on offense with the quarterback and fullback spots up in the air. The unit lost Zach Rogel from last season in his first year as starter, and now Bryant is in the mix to inherit the position along with Ridley and freshman Wells Middleton.

Ridley, King said, has lined up some at quarterback in a shotgun as the team with older brother Chad four and five seasons ago.

&uot;If we get in a situation where we don’t feel comfortable, we’ll put Stevan in the shotgun,&uot; King said. &uot;Tripp is a good athlete. He’s improved a lot since he’s been here. He was barely used at Briarfield, but he’s really blossomed. I look for him to have a great senior year. Wells is a wiry kid, but he’ll be a good athlete for us. Wells throws the ball better than Tripp. We’ve got a lot of work to do at the quarterback spot.&uot;

Whoever the Saints wind up with at quarterback, that won’t change the objective a bit. The offense will still be centered around Ridley, who broke out last season in Class AA as a sophomore with 1,479 yards and 24 touchdowns.

&uot;Offensively, our goal is to get Stevan Ridley the football,&uot; King said. &uot;If we’re good enough to sit him back in an I and pitch it to him, we’ll do that. We’ve worked on three formations with him &045; the spread with him at tailback, the box with him at tailback and our typical pro set.&uot;

The offensive line has three returners while it lost Alex Allain and Preston Parish from the fall. Kolby Godfrey will step in along with Mark Harveston and Blaine Misita to anchor the front.

Kyle Ketchings is getting reps at fullback following the loss of Cap White back there.