FALL PREVIEW: Blount High School

Willie Bohannon

With 16 seniors missing from last year's 4-6 club -- including the starting quarterback, tailback, fullback, all of the secondary and five total linemen -- Blount High School will go in search of its first playoff berth since 2004 this fall. ScoutSouth.com interviews coach Ben Harris about his 2007 team.

Leading the hunt for the Leopards is 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound senior defensive end Willie Bohannon, a top prospect coach Ben Harris calls "an impact player" who any team would be lucky to land.

"He's hard to block, he's a great pass rusher and he's a great run stopper," Harris said of the versatile Bohannon, who has 4.8 speed in the 40-yard dash and is quick enough to play linebacker in a 3-4.

"He's just a great all-around player," Harris said. "He's a great kid off the field as well. Any team that gets him is going to get a jewel."

Bohannon, who has been a starter since his freshman year, recorded 57 tackles and 15 sacks as a junior and 70 tackles and 18.5 sacks as a sophomore. He currently has an offer from Alabama but is being pursued by Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Clemson, Purdue and Iowa State.

Joining Bohannon up front is senior defensive linemen Chris McCants (5-11, 230) and Quintin Buford (6-2, 200) and junior defensive tackle Ken Wilson (5-11, 240).

The three linebackers are juniors Quinton Jackson (5-8, 185), Enrique Williams (6-0, 185) and Johnny Evans (6-0, 190). Williams may also see time at wide receiver, while Evans could find himself in the backfield as well. "He's going to be a game player for us this year," Harris said of Evans. "He makes things happen."

Senior Jonathan Donaldson (5-11, 175) and sophomore Jarrick Williams (6-0, 190) are both listed as defensive backs and wide receivers.

Harris also lists senior tight end/wide receiver Steve Taylor (6-2, 190) and junior athlete Bennie Oliver (5-10, 170) as players to watch. Harris describes Oliver as an "athlete" who could play a multitude of positions this year, including running back, wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist.

Three players are vying for time at quarterback for the Leopards: senior Kelvin Chestang (6-1, 218); junior Lamar Woodson (5-10, 160); and sophomore Calvin Davidson (5-8, 145). Chestang started at linebacker last year and finished second on the team in tackles, while Woodson and Davidson both saw limited action under center.

As of the end of spring drills, Harris claims the quarterback position is wide open. "We don't know who will be the starter yet," he said. "We're going to let them compete."

Running back will also see a fresh face this year, as junior Algeron Mingo (5-11, 190) played fullback last year and could move to the tailback slot. He might see time at linebacker as well, Harris said.

Senior fullback/defensive lineman Lewis Wright (5-1, 240) may also carry the ball this year for Blount.

Junior lineman Triston Taldon (5-10, 225) could see time at center and defensive tackle, as Harris calls him "one of the strongest kids we have."

Senior offensive linemen Charlie Craige (6-6, 255) and Darold Whitfield (6-4, 240) both have offers from Alabama State, while senior Jarvis Moore (6-2, 240) is an offensive/defensive lineman.

Blount has a strong tradition out of the Mobile area, winning four state championships in the 1990s under Harris. The Leopards 1998 title team is widely considered one of the best teams in state history.

Harris left Blount for coaching stints at Alabama State and Daleville High but returned to the Leopards in 2002 with every intention of returning the team to glory. A 16-35 record the past five years hasn't exactly done that, but the veteran coach insists his team is making strides and is gunning for the postseason.

Last year's team lost two games by one point and one game by two points in its first year up from 5A. This year, Harris says the Leopards -- newcomers and all -- are going to have to grow up in a hurry if they want to secure a 6A playoff spot.

"We lost a lot of heartbreaking games last year and, hopefully, we can get over that," Harris said. "The kids and the coaches are working hard. We've got to get tough. We've got to know how to finish games."

Overall, the Leopards will be young this fall. But that doesn't mean they'll be bad, according to Harris, who feels a solid spring has his team on track to make the improvements needed to get Blount back in contention.

"They did a real good job this spring. They have a real good attitude and that's going to be big for us," Harris said. "There's a big difference between a group of guys that say 'I don't know if we can do this' and a group that says 'Let's get it done.'

"We're looking to improve. We're looking to get to the playoffs."

ScoutSouth.com--Your source for Alabama high school football.

Reach Derek Belt at the ScoutSouth.com message boards.

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