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With a new season comes a new set of challenges.
At least that's the case for East Oktibbeha head football coach Randy Brooks, who now has a good idea of the hurdles the Titans will have to overcome in 2011 as the team recently wrapped up spring drills.
There was good. There was bad. Yet, perhaps most importantly, Brooks says there is still work to do.
"What I liked was that our running backs picked up our offense pretty well this spring," said Brooks. "We're having to replace our whole backfield this year with Chris Hunter, Marlon Fair and Lexie Edwards gone, so I had a new set of running backs and quarterback this spring.
"What I didn't like was that the defensive line just wasn't aggressive enough for me. I've got experienced defensive backs coming back, but when your defensive backs are making most of your tackles, that's not a good thing."
Brooks got a glimpse of his squad in game action with a pair of jamboree contests against Durant and Sumter Academy (Ala.).
Played on the campus of East Mississippi Community College in Scooba two weeks ago, East Oktibbeha lost both matchups, but Brooks says he was "impressed" with some of the young Titans who are looking to fill the shoes of Hunter, Fair and Edwards.
"I've got a good group of 9th graders that have come in and that's what spring practice was primarily for," said Brooks. "We've got to get them used to the speed of the high school game."
East Oktibbeha's youngsters and veterans alike will get the chance to continue to progress as the summer months roll on. Brooks says his squad will be taking part in a camp at Mississippi State on June 10, and will participate in Starkville High's 7-on-7 passing league every Monday in June.
"We won't be sitting around doing nothing this summer," said Brooks. "We'll be pretty busy."
With all the work, East Oktibbeha is looking to improve upon a 2010 season in which they recorded a 4-7 overall record and missed the playoffs.
While there are still plenty of obstacles to overcome, Brooks believes he and the Titans could be in a better position to achieve success this year.
"Last season, I took over the team with two weeks left to go before the season started," said Brooks. "I'd honestly say it was still (former coach Anthony King's) team last year. This year, I get the chance to put more of my influence into it."