Tyler Corbit --
The Alexander Spartans football program took a massive leap in the 2018 season. After consecutive 1-9 seasons and winless in conference seasons, the Spartans bounced back in a big way, going 4-6 on the year with a 2-4 record in conference, including a win over a strong Vinton County team.
As head coach Earich Dean enters his third year, he enters with something new, expectations. The 2018 program showed that Dean had what it takes to win with a small program and many should be expecting the program to take another step in the right direction.
Alexander is just four seasons removed from their 2015 league title and the program is looking to recapture the magic that the team brought to Albany.
What we already know
Kaleb Easley is a superstar. This season will be his third straight under center and will also see him reprise his role as the team’s star middle linebacker. Easley completed over 50 percent of his passes for over 700 yards on the season. He also ran for six touchdowns. His biggest impact, however, came on defense where he recorded 91 tackles and was named all-district at the linebacker position.
Every good quarterback needs weapons and the Spartans return a solid receiver in Michael Kelly, who was the top target for Easley this past season.
This is all coupled with head coach Earich Dean, who is now one of the longest-tenured coaches in the league after four teams welcomed new leadership this past off-season. Dean had the Spartans sitting at 4-3 at one point this past season, and the team lost to both Chesapeake and Meigs by 8 points. If a few plays go another way we are looking at a potential 6-4 Spartan team.
What we still don’t know
How much depth will the Spartans roster have? Numbers across the TVC have been down and Alexander’s sideline has looked slim these past few years. Alexander does return many dominant skill players who will help the Spartans light up scoreboards in 2019. The issue is, can players of a similar skill level step up when the first unit gets tired?
If Alexander develops a strong second unit, this team can hang with most of the conference, and that is what is needed for Alexander to continue to improve.
The other lingering question that faces the Spartans is how to replace Connor Kimbrough. The h-back was able to do a little bit of everything for the Spartans last season and was all over the field on both sides of the ball. He was the difference in quite a few games for the Spartans and replacing him will be at the top of coach’s Dean’s to-do list entering week one.