The Hopkinsville High School football team, which has been going through Spring practice, is set to scrimmage tonight at the Thornton Field behind the blockhouse on the campus of Hopkinsville High School. The scrimmage is to begin around 4:30 p.m. The Tigers return thirteen starters from off a team that, last season, was one of the top 3 teams in its classification by year’s end. The Tigers lost to 4A State Champion Franklin-Simpson in the State Quarterfinals in a game the Tigers led in the first half 20-0. The Tigers carried the lead well into the 3rd quarter, before succumbing to the senior laden, star-studded Wildcat roster.
There is a lot of excitement around the program and for good reason. Our sister publication, KPGFootball, has released a preseason Class 4A, Top 5 poll, which has ranked the Tigers number one. This wasn’t done light-heartedly as the Tigers will lineup behind an offensive line which will average 270 pounds across its front. The Tigers return all five starters, up front, from a year ago and boast an All-Conference player at left tackle, an AFI-KPG All-Stater at center (who is also a Kentucky Powerlifting state champion), and a 2nd team All Kentucky New Era performer returning at right guard. The Tigers also return All-State quarterback, Jay Bland, All-State corner, JeVon Leavell, and an All-Stater who will align this year at both MLB/fullback in Denarius Barnes. What may have the Tigers more excited than anything is the return to action of JaTorian Dillard who injured himself celebrating in a preseason scrimmage and didn’t log a single carry after being selected preseason, District player of the year, by a vote of the District coaches. Dillard will be held out of tonight’s scrimmage so the bulk of the carries will go to Jordan Hopson who is a leading, returning rusher from a year ago.
The receiving corp is somewhat depleted with the departure of 1,000 yard receiver Gavin Marshand. The coaching staff is excited about one edge prospect who, last season, showed tremendous promise on his way to being awarded a varsity letter which isn’t easy at that position for any freshman playing Class 4A football. Reece Jesse is a 6-3 inch wide receiver who has made incredible gains in Coach Dowland’s strength & conditioning program since the end of the year. Reece Jesse has soft, supple hands, and a lengthy wing-span with the ability to elevate and come down with the reception. The Tiger staff believes this upcoming season will be a break-out season for Jesse.
Along the defensive front, the Tigers lost, at DE, one of its best defenders from last year; but the staff, and observers at Spring ball, can’t stop raving about class of 2020, DE, Erick Grubbs. Grubbs, a sophomore who measures 5-10, 215 pounds, has added twenty pounds of muscle on his frame since season’s end. Erick, while still just a sophomore, is presently squatting 460 pounds, benching 245, power cleaning 245, with a deadlift of 450 pounds. Grubbs is a quick-twitch monster whose get-off is lightening fast and he is violent at the point of impact. G1NBC was able to reach Grubbs’ position coach, Adam Dowland, and Coach Dowland said, what I love about Grubbs is he has a lot of “dog” in him. He will have a break out year for us, upfront, with little question.
So if you are around this afternoon, one might well drop by the field and take in some of the scrimmage. There will be key players out for other sports or injury but should the Tigers arrive in August, fully loaded with what they have at their disposal, this upcoming season may add to the school’s State Championships won in 1940, 1965, and 1966. In class 4A is just may be the year of the Tiger!