By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
Looking for a return trip to the playoffs, the Killeen football team will look to answer several questions during the upcoming spring football sessions, set to begin Tuesday.
"There's a bunch of question marks as far as starters go, so this is a very important time of the year for us," KHS coach Sam Jones said. "We're pretty young at quarterback and we'll be replacing our departing running backs, so we'll be using this time as a growing-up session. There's lots of positions to be earned out there."
Last year, the Roos finished 4-6, 2-3 in District 16-4A, and while several seniors will need to be replaced, Jones is still optimistic for the upcoming season.
"When I say we're young, that means we're limited in varsity experience, but that doesn't mean we don't have some talented athletes over here," Jones said. "This spring, a lot of these young guys will get the opportunity to see what playing at the varsity level is all about. I would say there's probably six offensive starting positions that are open and 6-7 positions on defense as well."
With TAKS testing under way this week, practice times will be short this week, but there is plenty of time for the Roo youngsters to impress Jones prior to their spring game, set for May 19.
"My advice to the players heading into the spring practices is to keep their heads up," Jones said. "Each day is different and it's not where you start at spring, it's how you finish. The kids that learn to play hard on every play and understand the speed and pace of varsity football will earn their spots.
"We still have lots of kids that like to run and love to hit, so I'm excited to see what I'll have to work with."
Roo boys, girls preparing for regional meet
With a qualifier in every event except the 300-meter hurdles, KHS boys track coach Neil Searcy will be plenty busy at this year's Region II Meet, set for April 28-29 at the University of North Texas.
"Comparing this year's team to last year's, I think last year may have been a bit faster and more experienced, but we're much deeper this year, especially in the field events," Searcy said. "We've got two athletes qualified in the long jump, triple jump, high jump and shot put and we've got quality competitors across the board."
After falling one point short of a Region II title a year ago, the Roos will have to contend with several quality programs this year, including Dallas Kimball, Lancaster, Dallas Lincoln, Greenville, Crowley and Mesquite Poteet, among others.
On the girls' side, several Lady Roos will also be making the trek to Denton, including Tiffany Townsend in the 200, Mimi Williams in the shot put, Amanda McHaney in the pole vault, Donna Gilbert in the 800, Ashley Price in the 100 hurdles and the 400 relay team of Townsend, Denise Marion, LaDawn Spiller and Amber Hinson.
"It was nice to see some personal-best marks at the district meet and, hopefully, we'll be able to continue to improve at the regional meet," girls coach Leah Cannon said.
Athlete of the Week Andrew Gumbs, senior, boys track
Gumbs picked up gold medals in the long jump and 110-meter hurdles, a silver in the triple jump and two bronze medals as part of the 400 and 800 relay teams at the District 16-4A Meet.
Statistic of the Week 46 feet, 7 inches, mark notched by freshman Omar Craddock on his final attempt in the triple jump at the district meet, earning him a spot at the Region II Meet.