The Union Recorder

Local Sports

May 10, 2014

Braves open spring practice

Hannah establishing his style

MILLEDGEVILLE — The new leader of Baldwin High School football stepped into his first spring practices this week.

Braves' head coach Lee Hannah said players are receptive to learning how to do things right with “tempo, speed and effort.”

“I've been really pleased. The guys are gravitating towards me,” he said.

The team is undergoing a culture change as well as a different spin on proper fundamentals.

“People want to see us with pads on and hitting, but at the same time, we have to learn how to hit and how to practice. That's what I'm trying to get to right now,” Hannah said. “You can't build something if you don't have fundamentals and a foundation.”

Coordinator Randall Owens' offense remains for the Braves.

Hannah said Owens is doing a great job coaching up the offense.

Given Hannah's propensity for the other side of the ball, an altered defense will take time to settle.

“We are bringing a new defensive system here. It's just learning the calls, the terminology and the scheme,” the new head coach said.

The Braves will base out of a 4-3 defensive alignment this season. Hannah wants “all 11 hats” flying to the football.

He envisions a stingy third down team that plays defense the right way with emotion and attitude.

“I love those big uglies up front on offense, but I have to hang my hat on defense and special teams,” Hannah said. “That's where ball games are won.”

Junior quarterback Felix Jones took first team reps at practice. Jones potential starter role is made easier by a dominant backfield presence named Kentavious Thomas.

The senior running back also known as “Pop” is one of the best in the state and nationally for that matter.

Mississippi State recently made an offer to the rising senior who also was nominated for the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

The nomination tabs Thomas as one of the 400 best in the country. A 90-man roster will be finalized in the fall.

“I believe I'm going to make it,” Thomas said. “I'm going to keep grinding to try and get there.”

Having an SEC football offer on the table and national hype helps the program.

“It's phenomenal for this community and this program to get his name and that exposure out there,” Hannah said. “At the same time, he's a great kid first and foremost. Thomas is a young man of character. He's bought in since I got here.”

Hannah previously coached some NFL players and said Thomas might be “one of the greatest.”

“I'm proud of his efforts to stay with us and work hard,” the coach said. “The work he's put in speaks for itself.”

Thomas said the seniors would do what's needed this season.

The Mississippi State offer validates the Baldwin back's skill set, but he hasn't committed yet. He's still enjoying the recruiting process.

Extra work has “Pop” looking faster than ever.

Baldwin High School football wraps spring practice Friday, May 16 with a Spring Carnival and game.

The carnival starts at 7 p.m. with the game following at 7:30 p.m.

Adults pay $5, while students pay $3 for entry into Braves Stadium. Enjoy inflatables and other activities for $2 as well.


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