Marshall – It’s been a crazy school year and even crazier for high school team sports. By this time, baseball is usually what’s being discussed, and football season is in the rearview mirror – but not this year.
The Madison County Patriots are about to go into an abbreviated football season with seven games. They’re starting with a home game on February 26th against Smoky Mountain, Patriot’s Head Coach Jamie Extine’s old team. Extine was with Smoky Mountain for 15 years, where he was in several positions, including secondary coach, offensive and defensive coach. He came to Madison three years ago before taking over as head coach in February of last year.
“It’s been hard, but it’s helped our numbers,” said Extine, talking about the effects of COVID-19 on his team. “Kids are hungry! We’ve got a lot of numbers out. We’ve got close to 60 kids [between] varsity and JV, but it’s been a struggle getting them in and out and with all the protocols and all the things that you have to do. It makes for a lot of preparation, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Asked about the physical condition of his team, Extine said, “We tried to do workouts for a while, but it’s limited numbers for…physical conditioning. Weight training has been the difficult part. It’s just so limited the numbers you can get in there. You have to hold the kids accountable on their own.”
Extine said they did “more explosive” stuff on the field during practice to “help keep up their strength.” The team went to Tuscola and scrimmaged with Tuscola this past Saturday after two weeks of practice.
The Tribune asked the coach who the limited number of fans allowed in (currently 100 home fans) should be watching this season.
Extine said, “You’ve got Caden Hilemon, (Sophmore) our quarterback. I look for him to have a very good year. Elijah Tipton at wide receiver. Tyler DeBruhl at wide receiver. Clay Hilemon (Caden’s brother) he’s going to be a good defensive ballplayer. Zander Fender at our tailback spot, he’s going to be really, really good. Then Justin Sprinkle is going to be one of our better offensive and defensive lineman along with Jose Ramirez.”
After Extine takes on his old team, Madison will play North Buncombe on March 5 at North Buncombe, Polk at home on March 12, Avery at Avery on March 19, Mitchell at home on March 26. Then they will be at Mountain Heritage on April 2 with their final regular-season game back home against Owen.