Football Preview of the teams in the River Valley and Ozark Edition area.READ ONLINE
Atkins Red DevilsPublished October 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Coach: Keith Tanner, third year
Assistant coach: Terence Bobo
2012-13 record: 8-17
Returning starters: Landree Harris, 6-3 senior shooting guard, 12 points per game; Joey Vaughn, 6-2 senior forward, 12 ppg; and Alex Spradlin, junior forward, 10 ppg.
Best inside players: Tanner said Vaughn and Spradlin would be the go-to Red Devils in the paint. “Joey Vaughn has lots of heart,” the coach said. “He plays bigger than his size. Alex Spradlin is a hard-nosed player. He’s a strong kid with tons of potential.” Vaughn is a three-year starter.
Best outside players: Tanner singled out Harris, also a three-year starter, as Atkins’ best perimeter player. He leads the team in 3-point shooting, but there’s also more to the package. “He is a good ball handler and he plays great defense,” the coach said.
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year? The Red Devils made a big jump last year with eight wins, following a 1-20 season in 2011-12. Tanner said better team chemistry this season should help them continue to build the program.
Team strengths: The coach pointed out an intangible strength. “I will have high-character kids this season who won’t quit in adversity and unselfish kids who don’t care who scores and will share the ball,” he said. Tanner likes that kind of personnel. Any coach would.
Team weaknesses: The Red Devils lack size on the inside, the coach said. Their intangibles should help them overcome that weakness.
Games to watch: The 3A-4 (which also includes Charleston, Paris, Lamar, Mansfield, Danville, Lavaca and Two Rivers), sent Mansfield, Charleston, Lamar and Lavaca to the Class 3A Region 1 Tournament last year. Charleston won the regional; Mansfield finished third. Charleston reached the semifinals of the Class 3A State Tournament, falling to Episcopal Collegiate, the eventual state runner-up, 57-55. Mansfield fell to McGehee in the opening round. All the Red Devils’ conference games should be ones to watch this year.
Toughest opponent: Charleston.
College prospects: None at this time.
In a nutshell: Tanner said he was excited about 2013-14. “These kids deserve a good season,” he said. “They have worked extremely hard and continue to build. They truly are good kids that I enjoy working with. This bunch has made me fall in love with the game again, and working with them has been a pleasure — not because we are the most talented, but simply because they play together as a team and try to do what’s asked of them.”