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Pirates Look To Stay Focused

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September 1, 2011 by wcobserver

Staff Photographer Brooke McNeely Galligan - Greenland senior Michael Lewis runs past other players Thurs. Aug. 18 during defensive drills during football practice. The Pirates play their first home game Sept. 2.

By Brent Harrison

GREENLAND – Keeping sixteen, seventeen and eighteen-year olds to maintain focus these days might be one the hardest missions to accomplish, however the ‘no nonsense approach’ of Greenland coach Lee Larkan seems a pretty good way to keep the Pirates on the ‘straight and narrow’.

“We have thirty six kids out for football but I think we may may be a little bit full of ourselves,” Larkan said. “I think we might think we are a little better than we are. We need to get our heads on straight.”

The Pirates are coming off a 9-3 campaign in 2010 that included its first playoff win since 2005.

Greenland lost only eleven seniors in May, those exits though were more of a case of quality rather than quantity.

Gone are All-State performers Anthony McCool who ran for 1,475 yards and 19 touchdowns, and Andrew Bray who accounted for more than 100 tackles. Also needing to be replaced the quarterback spot where Jordan Larkan threw for over 1,600 yards.

The three, along with eight others provided a great deal of senior leadership last season; Larkan said he’s still looking for someone to “generals’ in that area.

“We’re still looking for the leadership and the heart that we had last year,” he said. “We had a lot of senior leadership last year, but no one’s really stepped up yet. We may be chiming in on the past a little bit but things are day to day now. It ain’t happening yet.”

One area that may help things come together is getting a proven commodity at the quarterback spot.

Junior Darian Froud (6-0, 160) has taken over the reins behind center and will try to take over where Jordan Larkan left off, Larkan tossed for 19 scores last season.
“(Froud’s) bigger and faster (Jordan Larkan) he just needs the experience,” Larkan said. “He’s going to be fine, he’s done a good job so far especially with the ‘running of the team’. That kind of sounds like a Houston Nutt thing, but he’s done a good job for us running the offense and getting the team in and out of the huddle.”

In addition to QB, the Pirates will also attempt to replace McCool.

“Right now he have four back there,” he said. “(Senior) Michael Lewis (5-9, 190) is maybe a little ahead of everybody else, he is also playing linebacker pretty heavily so we’ll have to see what happens. (Senior) C.J. McMaster, (5-7, 150), (Junior) Evan Johnson, (6-0, 155) and (Soph.) Calvin Giddens ( 6-0, 207) have all ran well.”
Salvadore Rojas, who paced the Pirates last season with 45 catches graduated, but senior Brett Vaughn (6-1, 175) who paced the team in yardage (34-552) returns on the outside in coach Larkan’s ‘Spread’ offense for his senior campaign.

We’re trying to break in a few players there (receiver),” he said. “We’ve got (Senior) Slayd Harney (6-2, 185) trying to start at split end and he’s done well. (Brett) Vaughn is back and he’s done a good job. The inside guys will probably be a combination of some of the running backs who don’t play tailback. Our skill people should be fine.”
Larkan said the offensive line is an area that he’s been most pleased with.
Seniors Dustin Barton (5-10, 190), Brian Velasco (5-9, 180), Derek Hellwig (5-9, 175) Issac Gonzalez (5-10, 205), Mickey Prather (5-7, 170) anchor a veteran group up front. Juniors Josh Fellers (5-10, 190) and Jordan Srita also have plenty of experience.

“Most of those guys (lineman) are back and they’ve probably been a bright spot,” Larkan said. “They are really intelligent with good size and are strong. We’re trying to break in a new right guard with Jeff Overdorf.”

Overdorf (6-1, 200) is a senior transfer from Carlise.

Despite allowing just 14.0 points per game last season and returning seven starters, the play of the defense has been an area on concern in the early going.

“Right now we’re a little worried about the defense,” he said. “We’re not being as aggressive as we need to be. I’m hoping all the aggression didn’t graduate.”

“We have Lewis coming back at linebacker and he has done a good job,” he said. “We feel good about (Senior) Brett Arnold (6-3, 185) and we’re looking at some other people.
The secondary is an area that Larkan and his coaches are busy revamping after being hit hard last spring by graduation.

“It is a struggle back there (secondary),” he said. “We’re got one returning starter (Johnson) and we’re trying to replace three. Right now it’s a bit of a struggle.”

After hosting Union Christian in its opener, the Pirates will take to the road for the next three weeks.

“The big thing right now is we are playing a lot of people in practice trying to develop some depth,” he said. “When we narrow it down to the guys that we are going to play maybe it will iron itself out a little better.”

But Larkan is a straight shooter and sugar coating things is not his way.

“It’s not all gloom and doom but I don’t blow smoke up these guys butts,” he said. “I try and tell our guys the way I feel (playing) every day. Sometimes that might get a little boring for them.”

The Pirates will find out early where they stand. In the second week of the season as it hits the road to take on Mansfield. Greenland will be looking for revenge after the Tigers ended the Pirates season last year with a second round of the playoffs with a 24-7 win.

“This group has has some smoke blown at them (past),” he said. “They may feel preety big on themselves. They may think they may be better than they actually may be, but I ain’t blowing no smoke.”

If the Pirates lose focus this season look for Larkan to get it back real fast.

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