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Washington & Lee Eagles football program faces rebuilding season

 Coach Antron Yates and his 2013 Washington and Lee Eagles football team began practicing for the upcoming season this week. “They are a very young but very talented football team,” Yates said. “The outlook is for them to start the rebuilding process. Most of the players that will be starting only have JV experience.”

“We have a very tough out of district schedule, but this schedule should prepare them well for district competition,” Yates said. The W&L offense will be inexperienced with only three returning starters, two of them offensive linemen. The W&L defense will have six returning starters from last year’s team.

Missing from this year’s team will be 2011 all-state kick returner Kwame Gray. Gray played running back, defensive back and kick returner for the Eagles in 2011 when they went 11-2 and last year when they were rebuilding. Yates said the team will need to replace Gray’s production.

Despite its youth, the 2013 Eagle offense should be swift and talented. “The backfield this year will be led by Sophomore D.J. Weldon and Junior Marion Pollard,” Yates said. He said the team is hoping to have a big year from senior Davon Hamilton at wide receiver.

“The defense will be the heart and soul of this year’s football team,” Yates said. “The experience of the team lies on the defensive line returning all three starters Kenneth Ashdown, Markeyse Thompson, and Gabe Loesel. The defense will be lead by seniors Milan Bullock and Kaleel Pratt. Look for the Eagles to get better each week,” Yates said,

“Our goal is to put in place the building blocks that will restore Washington & Lee to its rich winning tradition,” said Yates, who is entering his second year as W&L football coach.

A position by position breakdown of the 2013 Eagles shows a two way battle for quarterback between juniors Chris Graham and Treshaun Brown. The running backs will be sophomore D.J. Weldon, junior Marion Pollard and junior Timmy Minor. Wide receivers will be senior Davon Hamilton, sophomore Jarret Sumiel and juniors Bruce Smith and Damar Smith. Junior Foster Brooks will be a utility player on the young offense.

The tight ends and fullbacks will be junior Jeremy Turner, senior Milan Bullock, senior Ryan Taylor and sophomore Jaquan Ball. Offensive linemen for the 2013 Eagles will be senior A.J. Turner, senior Michael Redmond, junior Markeyse Thompson, junior Gabe Loesel and senior Blaine Self. 

 The defense, which Yates said would be the key to success for this year’s football team, will feature a secondary with senior Alex Lane,  Davon Hamilton,  Bruce Smith and D.J. Weldon.  Linebackers will be junior Jeremy Turner, Milan Bullock, senior Kaleel Pratt and Marion Pollard. The defensive line will be anchored by junior Kenneth Ashdown, Gabe Loesel and Markeyse Thompson.

Bullock and Ashdown were first team All Northern Neck District players last year.

Thompson and Pratt were awarded second team All Northern Neck District honors. Yates said he was hopeful these players plus several others would be the leaders of the 2013 Eagles.

The 2013 W&L Eagles schedule features non-district games against West Point and King George at home, Windsor, and King William away and then Spotsylvania at home. The Northern Neck District games are Lancaster away, Northumberland and Rappahannock at home,  Essex away and Colonial Beach at home.  The season opens at West Point on Aug. 23.

Richard Leggitt

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