Six of the ten seniors that graduated from last year’s Pineville football team were linemen. So popular opinion heading into this season is that the Mountain Lions could struggle up front as they replace all of those starters.
Coach Bart Elam says it’s way too soon to make that assumption.
“You’ve got to play the game. A lot of people say that we’re not going to be very good up front, but we’re really pleased with our kids up there this year,” he said. “The best way to explain our line right now is that it’s a good unit. They’re all about the same talent-wise and size-wise, they’ve all got that fighter mentality and they’re all good kids. It’s a group that’s really coming together.
“We haven’t played anybody yet, so we don’t know what we’ll have to fix. But we do know that if we can get those guys playing good we’ve got a lot of young speed behind them. We’re going to start two juniors and the rest are sophomores and freshmen.”
The juniors are returning running back Bradley Fuson and fullback Robbie Miller. Quarterback Tucker Woolum and end Will Adams are among sophomores and Elam seems especially excited about a couple of incoming freshmen: receiver Nike Mason and running back Jordan Wombles, a transfer from Bell County.
“Nike Mason is as good of a freshman receiver as you’ll see. Jordan Wombles is as good of a freshman running back as you’ll seed,” he said. “We know what Tucker and Will can do. Robbie and Brad, our two juniors, are really coming on strong and becoming leaders. On the defensive side, that same group along with the line just makes us really fast. As a unit I think we’re as fast as we’ve been probably since 2010.”
The Lions will get a good look at how well the line is coming along next week. With an open week to start the season, Pineville is able to play two preseason scrimmages. They’ll scrimmaging at Cumberland Gap on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Then meet Knox Central in the SEKC Gridorama next Friday. That event was originally scheduled to be held at PHS, but the school is hoping to move it to Knox to give recent seeding time to take root on the Lions’ field. Williamsburg will go against Harlan in the Friday’s first scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. with Pineville and Knox taking the field for the nightcap.
Elam added that he’s pleased with how the team as progressed so far.
“We’re starting to get some speed guys being speedy and some strong guys being strong. The kids are getting their legs under them and starting to play some football. We’re excited about where we are at this point.”