Tifton Gazette

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May 15, 2014

Tift holds spring football game

TIFTON — It may be May, but the lights at Brodie Field will be bright. It is time for fans to get their annual early glimpse of what the upcoming football season will hold with the spring game and John Reid's Tift County Blue Devils are ready to put their skills on display tonight.

The game starts at 6 p.m. with admission set at $5.

While still a battle between sides, Reid is not going to go strictly with blue team against white team.

"The format is going to be mainly offense versus defense," he said. That entails No. 1 offense against No. 2 defense and vice-versa.

The offense can rack up points in the traditional ways, but there are bonuses for defense. Reid said that a 3-and-out gives the defense 3 points, a turnover is good for 4 and a defensive touchdown is naturally good for 6.

About 100 Blue Devils have been out this spring, said Reid, but he expects the number to fluctuate some.

The Devils have received a spring practice boost from a transferee: Tajhea Chambers has moved to town and has taken up residence as a quarterback. Chambers spent the last three seasons at Baldwin and will be an upcoming senior. He participated in April's Power Meet and ranked in the top three in his weight class in bench press, squats and power cleans.

Reid's corps of running backs are nearly the same, but he said Brian Bennett has switched to being a corner. That still leaves him Rodrick Gaines and Barry Bennett and he is still seeing who else works out at that position. Barry Bennett is just returning from helping the boys track team to a 7th place finish in the 4x400-meter run at the state meet.

Receivers gaining attention for the team have been R.J. Merriweather and Quay Duggins. Reid believes he will have several options at the position.

He also has a major hybrid athlete with Malik Henry,  who spent time returning kicks and punts, as a receiver and even had a few snaps as both halfback and quarterback in different formations. Henry also had an excellent showing at the Power Meet, having the top total for the lower weight classes.

Defensively, he highlighted safety Josh Ajiero, who was also on the relay team, and linebacker Zach Abbott, who gained "a lot of experience" last year as he was moved up the charts.

Summer practice starts in late July with teams allowed to don full pads Aug. 1. Tift has a scrimmage scheduled with Worth County Aug. 15 and the regular season starts Aug. 22 with a home game against Henry County.

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20140726 John Gamble.JPG

John Gamble (right) is joined by John Reid at the Tiftarea YMCA Saturday.

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