‘Cats should be better this year

By Staff, 08/5/21 10:03 AM

HOPE – Once again, the Hope Bobcats are picked to finish near the bottom of the 5A South conference.

A statewide publication tabs the ‘Cats to finish sixth in the league, only ahead of the DeQueen Leopards.

Phillip Turner returns as the head coach with a 3-27 record in his tenure. Last season Hope finished with a 1-9 record. However, this year the ‘Cats will be returning nine starters from last year’s offense and six from the defense. This should help provide experience and leadership. The ‘Cats will again run a spread offense and 4-2 defense.

Ammorrion Dempsey returns as quarterback in his senior season. He earned all-state honors last season throwing for 1,222 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dempsey is a three-sport athlete.

KeJuan Booker also returns for his senior campaign as a running back. He will be paired in the backfield with sophomores K.D. Gulley, Donavan Jones and Tamarion Lindsey, who were top performers for the junior high squad that posted a 6-3 record last year.

K.J. Love is back at receiver and senior Davion Durden will be moving from receiver to tight end at times. Eric Haynie, another senior, returns as part of the receiving corps. He averaged 10 yards per catch last season. Junior Kaleo Anderson knows all receiving positions and should help the team when called upon. Kearon Brown, an all-state sprinter, moves from running back to receiver this year, while Oscar Bruno will also see action in the passing game.

The line is anchored by senior left tackle Kai Hamilton, who knows every spot on the line. He’ll be assisted by right tackle Gregory Burton. Tyree Phillips will be the center this year. Others fighting for spots for guard positions include: junior Anthony Hall; senior Oscar Marquez and sophomore Caden Brown. Others expected to contribute are: seniors Christian Bellow and Nathaniel English, along with junior Richard Cunningham. Jimmy Parades will kick, while Diego Ortiz will be the punter.

As the saying goes, offense wins games, but defense wins championships, and defense has been a problem for the ‘Cats the last few years. Hall, Hamilton and Burton return to play defensive tackle for the ‘Cats, with Hall expected to get the lion’s share of playing time. Senior Montaius Eason, who’s expected to be the valedictorian, will be one of the defensive ends. Ommarrion Watson will be another end.

Gulley led the junior high team in tackles at linebacker and moves up to the senior squad in the same position. Cunningham will be the weak side linebacker while Roosevelt Wyatt will help.

Dempsey led the team last year with 46 tackles and returns as safety, where he had five picks, returning three for touchdowns. Brown, another safety, will also return, along with Jarvius Solomon.

The ‘Cats should be quick and have plenty of skill players, but they will be lacking in depth, always a problem.