Upperclassmen determine path for 2023 Pilots’ success

by Mark Collier

The Fulton County High School Pilots will return to the gridiron Aug. 18, as they host the Gleason, Tenn. Bulldogs at home, with an even split of new and returning players, with 11 each.

The Pilots will be composed of 14 upperclassmen, with three seniors, Logan Griffiths, Malechi Mayes and Nyjah Montgomery, 11 juniors, David Allison, Braxton Bridges, Jaycob Davis, Benjamin Gilkey, Damien Hill, Javen Kimmons, Jackson Major, Evan Mallett, James Parker, Ryan Prehoda and Jayden Smith.

Rounding out the squad will be four sophomores, EDrece Bonds, Zayden Kinney, Kalon McCauley, and Vincent Scott, and four freshmen, Dalton Blankenship, Tevin Hammond, William Jackson, and Preston Smith.

Coach James Bridges will return for his 20th year of coaching between high school and middle school, and Will Greer, Josh Lutz, Rick Major, and David Clymer will round out his coaching staff as assistant coaches.

The Pilots will look to improve on their 2-8 record during the 2022 season, after starting out the season with a 44-28 victory over Calloway County in week 3 and a 58-30 victory over Ballard Memorial in week 4 before losing the final six games of the season thanks to an injury to QB Max Gibbs.

Looking ahead to this season, Coach Bridges sees Damien Hill, Cole Allison, Kalon McCauley, and his offensive line as players who will take on a leadership role.

On the offensive side, Coach Bridges sees Damien Hill and Kalon McCauley as his best players. During the 2022 season, Hill had 11 rushing attempts for 13 yards, and three catches for 25 yards. McCauley rushed for 345 yards on 65 carries and four touchdowns, and 215 yards and two touchdowns on 12 receptions.

Defensively, Cole Allison is projected to be the best player. During the 2022 season, Allison had 36 total tackles, including two for losses.

When looking over the schedule, Coach Bridges figuratively circled the game against the Russellville Panthers. The Pilots will look for revenge after a heartbreaking 38-32 loss at home to the Panthers in overtime last season.

A strong offensive line is projected to be seen as the team’s biggest asset, helping to assist the running game and protect the quarterback.

Coach Bridges’ goal for this season never wavers: to host a playoff game at Sanger Field.