Patriots work on replacing offensive skill players

  • Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Roger Lee/Journal Scene Diondre Champaign is one of several players who worked out at the receiver position for the Patriots this spring.

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The coaching staff of the Patriots’ football team placed a lot of emphasis this spring on identifying who they want to run the ball and who they want to catch it.

Fort Dorchester wrapped up its 2014 spring practice Friday with its annual Spring Game.

Patriot coach Steve LaPrad said his staff was able to accomplish many of its goals.

“We lost all of our receivers and two running backs who both rushed for 1,000 yards last season,” LaPrad said. “That is our main concern but we feel there are some talented guys moving up from JV and a couple of kids who were second string last year who can help us out.”

The Patriots do have quarterback Kobe Garrett, who was the team’s leading rusher and passed for 1,100 yards last season, returning. He may see some time at receiver next season.

“Kobe wants to do other things,” LaPrad said. “He just wants to play and be in the middle of everything but for me to let him do that I have to have a backup quarterback who can step in if Kobe gets hurt. Kobe is probably the best athlete on our team so we can use him to return punts, kickoffs, play defense, really anything.”

Another player who could help fill the void that will be left on the offensive side of the ball due to graduation is Dakereon Joyner, who averaged more than 200 yards of offense per game for the Patriots’ JV last season.

“We are excited about Dakereon,” LaPrad said. “He is just a heck of an athlete. We aren’t sure if we are going to put him at receiver or let him split time with Kobe.”

The coach is optimistic about his talent up front.

“We have three offensive linemen back but we lost two really good offensive linemen,” LaPrad said. “Those are pretty big shoes to fill but we have two guys who we think are going to come in and do that job.”

Entering spring practice, the Patriots didn’t have as many concerns about the defensive side of the ball.

“Defense is going to be our strong point,” LaPrad said. “We lost three linebackers but we have a lot of other starters back. We have six really good defensive linemen. We might move some guys around but we should still be strong.”

Those linemen are led by juniors Myles White and Eurndraus Bryant, who are both receiving a lot of interest from college scouts. Bryant may spend some time on the offensive line next season and the Patriot coaches like to use him as a fullback in short-yardage situations.

The Patriots return place kicker Riley Rozanski but will lose their punter to graduation. However, LaPrad says James Mackey has done a good job punting the ball this spring.

Between the B-team, JV and varsity squads, approximately 180 athletes came out for Fort football this spring.

“We’ve had a good spring,” LaPrad said. “We have about 60 kids out for B-team who can’t do a lot but we were able to get them involved in our Spring Game with a 7-on-7 competition.”

Overall, the coach said it was a successful spring.

“For me, spring practice has always been about finding where you are at,” he said. “It’s not about getting in shape. It’s getting the basics. We had some guys that we switched from offense to defense and others we switched from defense to offense to see where they would help us the most. The next step is getting them into the weight room this summer and putting them in the right groups and on the right team whether its B-team, JV or varsity.”

He said his staff got a good jump on that during its spring practice.

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