The Fulton Falcons entered last season without any returning starters on the offensive line.
This year, head coach Rob Black has all five back from 2017 to anchor an offense led by quarterback Xavier Malone.
“It feels great,” Malone said about the experience on the roster. “Last year, we put some new guys at different positions. It feels great to have them back and have them at that perfect position for them.”
Malone, who has multiple Division I offers, will start at quarterback for the fourth year in a row. The Falcons are 27-10 since Malone has been under center but the lack of a state title is still very much on his mind.
“Yes, it’s a big big factor,” Malone said. “We haven’t won one since we’ve been here and we’re trying to get one before we leave so, I mean, we’re trying to fight hard, motivate and then we just got to get the job done.”
“Our last state championship was in 2014 and none of these guys here played for us then,” Black said. “That’s always the expectation around here from our community and our school and our players so I think they’re hungry for that. It’s a little early for us to talk about it as coaches but I know our team talks about it a lot.”
The Falcons suffered a 44-14 loss in the second round of the 5A playoffs to eventual state champion Catholic in 2017.
“I think the disappointing end last year has carried over to this year and has given us a little bit more motivation to do better because we came so close to beating the defending state champion,” senior offensive lineman Jeryn Cole said.
Aside from Malone’s experience, Black said he’s worked on adding more numbers on both sides of the ball this season.
“We’re trying really hard not to play a whole lot of people both ways and so our focus in spring and this preseason is to develop depth,” Black said.
Fulton will open its schedule with a pair of road games but will play six at home this season.
|Thu.||Aug. 23||7:00 PM||at Central|
|Fri.||Aug. 31||7:30 PM||at Powell|
|Fri.||Sep. 7||7:30 PM||Austin-East|
|Fri.||Sep. 14||7:30 PM||Karns|
|Fri.||Sep. 21||7:30 PM||Maryville|
|Fri.||Sep. 28||7:30 PM||at Carter|
|Fri.||Oct. 5||7:30 PM||Clinton|
|Fri.||Oct. 12||7:30 PM||Campbell County|
|Thu.||Oct. 18||7:00 PM||West|
|Thu.||Oct. 25||7:30 PM||at Oak Ridge|