Parklane changes offense to provide a different twist
Having faced each other in recent seasons, the Parklane Pioneers and Starkville Academy Volunteers are anything but strangers.
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Yet for as well as the two teams may know each other, Parklane will bring a new twist to Starkville for a 7 p.m. game on Friday.
"We've completely changed offenses," said Parklane head coach Bo Milton. "We were a spread, zone-read team last year and we went more traditional out of the 'I' this year.
"We've got a couple of bigger running backs than we've had the last couple of years. Our quarterback was probably not the same type we needed to run the spread, so we've just went more traditional and are trying to keep everything a little bit more balanced."
So far this year, Milton says his squad's new approach has been met with mixed results.
Even through the struggles, Parklane sits at 5-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Milton says much of that can be attributed to a defense that has made life easier for a new offensive plan.
"It's been kind of a slow process getting to where we want to be (offensively)," said Milton. "But we've played pretty good defense all year. That and special teams have really been our strong points.
"We haven't been as consistent on offense as we'd like to be, but that's because we've got some young kids in some areas that are a little inexperienced. But we're getting better and our kids are working hard."
One individual who Milton has used to contribute in all facets for the Pioneers is Justin Brent.
Brent, a multi-positional talent, has emerged as Parklane's most consistent player according to Milton.
"(Brent) plays a little bit of everything," said Milton. "He's our return guy for punts and kickoffs. He'll play some flanker. He plays some tailback. He starts at corner. He just does everything and is probably our most well rounded player."
Aside from Brent, Parklane also relies heavily on tight end/linebacker Zach Smith and split end Taylor Smith.
Milton calls Zach Smith the leader of the Parklane defense, while Taylor Smith has 30 catches and six touchdowns this season.
Milton knows he'll need contributions from Brent, Zach Smith, Taylor Smith and others for Parklane to leave Starkville with a victory.
"This is the third year we've played (Starkville Academy)," said Milton. "Each year, it's just been night and day, from two years ago to last year to this year. They were well-coached last year and played hard, but you could tell things weren't clicking for them like they wanted it to. Well, it's clicking now.
"We'll have to come out and play our very best ballgame."