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QB health key for Western in 2022

By DALLIN DURRETT
For the Record
Posted 8/10/22

Western Harnett coach Zach Tenuta and key members of this year's team discuss the upcoming football season.

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QB health key for Western in 2022

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LILLINGTON — The good news for Western Harnett’s high school football team is that all of their quarterbacks are healthy for the upcoming season.

One of the factors for the Eagles’ struggles on offense last season was having to use four different quarterbacks.

Senior QB Trent Botts was the starter last season before he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He’s cleared and ready to be the starter again this season.

Watching from the sideline brought a different perspective on how he sees the game.

“I was trying to do too much last year whenever I got hurt,” Botts said.

“So being on the sideline, watching from there, helped me mature and it will help me this year play slower — take care of the ball.”

If Botts can stay healthy, then junior wide receiver Bryce Browning, who took over as quarterback for Botts last season, is prepared to help carry the load this season as a pass-catcher.

It’s especially important with senior wide receiver Ian Bristow out for the season with a back injury.

“I feel no pressure, I’m glad to take on a bigger role for the team,” Browning said. “I’ve been working on my route running, speed and agility. I also have confidence our receivers will step up.”

The Eagles’ offense also has to replace running back Elijah Bass. Coach Zach Tenuta has two options.

He likes J.J. Moore, a junior who played defense last season, and the other being senior Eli Diaz-Avalos, who played on special teams last season. 

“Diaz has done a good job running hard and running downhill. He is one of the most improved guys on this team,” Tenuta said.

The defense has to replace a lot of key starters, including middle linebacker and leading tackler Myles Washam.

James Lee, a junior who played defensive end last season and is now taking over for Washam at the middle linebacker spot, is ready to step up and lead the defense this season.

“Myles is a player you can’t replace on defense. However, I feel if we all step up and communicate better as a unit, we can still get the job done,” Lee said.

The Eagles are coming off a 2-8 season last year, an improvement after the team won zero games the season before.

However, Tenuta expects this season to be better.

“As coaches, we had the ability to really familiarize ourselves with the roster a lot more during the offseason. We got to put an offseason program in, going over the culture, and what to expect from this team,” he said.

“Now that they’ve tasted victory last year, and with everything they worked for during the winter and spring, we’re working to win each and every game.”

Western kicks off the season at South Johnston Aug. 19.

Dallin Durrett is a sports correspondent and can be reached at dallindurrett@gmail.com.

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