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Patriots look to get back into playoff contention

By James D. Horne jhorne@paducahsun.com

After spending last season as the assistant head football coach and offensive coordinator for Massac County, Ryan Lott is ready to turn things around and get the Patriots back into playoff contention as he takes over the reins as head coach this year.

"It's been a hectic summer, and I've been learning all the things a head coach has to do," said Lott, who was hired in March. "But I think I had an advantage over some people who take over a program, because I got to work with (former head) coach (John) Warren last year. Luckily, once I took over the program I already had relationships with the kids, so it was just continuing the work we had done in the offseason. We're just trying to make sure we keep the consistency up. We've had a great offseason. All our kids worked hard and are taking care of the things that will make us better."

Massac County returns five on offense who saw playing time last season, and two of those played quarterback. Senior Braden Fritch came into the season as the starter, but got hurt in game seven. That's when junior Jay Benard took over and started the final two games.

"Braden has showed he was very capable at quarterback last year," Lott said. "He's probably a better runner of the two, whereas Jay is more of a pocket passer. I think both can run the ball well enough. But there's a little bit of a different flavor with the offense when we have one in there over the other, and we'll call the offense to the strength of who we have in there. So that's something we've been working on with the different looks between the two."

Senior Dillon Stoner is expected to get the bulk of the carries at running back.

"We've got a good back returning, and he had a pretty good year for us," Lott said. "He had quite a few games where he ran for over 200 yards. So he was a very integral part of the offense last year. We're hoping to build on that and get some other guys in there to help out. We've got quite a few we're looking at to play, because we're quite pleased with our running back corps this year."

Lott said the people who play wide receiver will be virtually new, because of graduation.

Two juniors, Ty Copley and Zach Donaldson, will lead both the offensive and defensive lines. Lott said both groups will have guys who will have to play both ways.

"Donaldson can play anywhere on our front seven, and he and Ty have stepped up and taken charge of both the offensive and defensive lines," Lott said. "We're going to play a lot of guys there, which is what we want to do. But they have the game experience that will really help us out."

Along with Donaldson, Stoner also will see some time at linebacker. Lott hopes to work people in to make sure Donaldson and Stoner don't tire out.

"We've got some guys there we hope to get in at various times," Lott said. "The nice thing is we think we can get them some rest at different times during the game, whether it be offensively and defensively, so we can see how those other guys can handle things in in-game situations."

Quinton Fisher is the lone returning starter in the secondary.

"He's our leader back there, and he works tremendously hard," Lott said. "We want him to lead by example, because we know he's going to be the hardest worker in that group. We've got some guys who are filling in that I'm excited about who I think can help us make some plays in that group."

Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.

Massac County

Coach: Ryan Lott

2013 Record: 3-6

Players to Watch: Braden Fritch, Jay Benard, Dillon Stoner, Ty Copley, Zach Donaldson, Quinton Fisher.

Outlook: "It's been a hectic summer and I've been learning all the things a head coach has to do," Lott said. "But I think I had an advantage of some people who take over a program, because I was about to work with (former head) coach (John) Warren last year. Luckily, once I took over the program I already had relationships with the kids so it was just continuing the work we had done in the offseason. We're just trying to make sure we keep the consistency up. We've had a great offseason. All our kids worked hard and our taking care of the things that will make us better."

Schedule: August â “ 29  at Freeburg 7 p.m.

September â “ 5 Carterville 7 p.m.; 12 Anna-Jonesboro 7 p.m.; 19  Murphysboro 7 p.m.; 26 at Harrisburg 7 p.m.

October â “ 3 at Herrin 7 p.m.; 10 Benton 7 p.m.; 17 West Frankfort 7 p.m.; 24 at Ballard Memorial 7 p.m. 

Roster: 2 Malik Miller 11 5'9" 220 RB/LB; 3 Dillon Stoner 12 5'9" 205 RB/LB; 4 Micah Skidmore 10 5'6" 160 WR/DB; 5 Hayes Lawson 11 6'1" 160 K; 6 Jared Lamb 10 6'0" 200 RB/LB; 7 Brock Costello 11 5'7" 160 WR/DB; 8 Hunter Smith 10 5'7" 160 WR/DB; 9 Lane Pegram 10 6'1" 196 TE/LB; 10 Quinton Fisher 12 6'1" 185 WR/DB; 11 Jacob Lott 12 5'6" 165 RB/LB; 12 Mark Marlatt 12 6'0" 175 WR/DB; 15 Miguel Guetierez 12 5'9" 160 WR/DB; 16 Jay Benard 11 6'1" 205 QB/LB; 17 Braden Fritch 12 6'2'' 185 QB/DB; 18 Kris Miller 10 5'8'' 150 WR/DB; 21 Brian Harris 12 5'9" 185 RB/LB; 22 Darien Roundtree 10 5'9'' 160 WR/DB; 24 Trever Durapau 12 6'0" 180 WR/DB/P; 31 Aaron Boyd 11 5'7'' 160 WR/DB; 32 James Bradley 11 5'6" 170 RB/LB; 33 Corey Atkinson 10 5'6'' 175 RB/LB; 36 Johnny Towery 12 5'11'' 175 WR/LB; 45 Austin Cherry 12 5'10'' 180 WR/LB; 50 Ty Copley 11 5'9" 215 OL/LB; 51 Konner Smith 12 6'0" 235 OL/DL; 53 Brandon Keith 12 5'10" 200 OL/DL; 54 Zach Donaldson 11 6'5'' 275 OL/LB; 56 Caleb Parks 12 6'2'' 190 OL/LB; 57 Bohdi Morris 11 5'8'' 200 OL/DL; 58 Matt Hormann 12 6'1'' 215 OL/DL; 59 Sydney Adams 11 5'9'' 195 OL/LB; 60 Ryan Looper 12 5'10" 215 OL/DL; 65 Dylan Douglas 12 6'1'' 220 OL/DL; 66 Tyler Nugent 11 5'9'' 215 OL/DL; 71 Jonathon Shelton 10 5'8'' 200 OL/DL; 74 Frank Griffin 10 6'2" 265 OL/DL; 75 Chris Smith 12 6'1" 225 OL/DL; 76 Anthony Barbato 12 6'5'' 275 OL/DL; 80 Evan Hughes 10 5'10" 150 WR/DB; 82 Jalen Wilkenson-Dunbar 10 5'6" 140 WR/DB.

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