HOLLY POND – Now that the Holly Pond Broncos have seen the thrill of victory on the football field, the team is wanting more for the 2016 season.
In the 2015 regular season finale, the Broncos said goodbye to 29 consecutive losses when they reached deep down inside and outscored the Cold Springs Eagles 49-40 at Cranford Stricklin Stadium.
That created a moment of celebration no one associated with the school will ever forget. A chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to take away momentum from an opponent that was on their way to the state playoffs.
The foundation has been laid now for the Broncos to move upward. In Mike Bates' fourth season, Holly Pond comes into fall camp with experience.
Seventy-two percent of the offense returns with the defense to be anchored by the presence of six returnees.
Left-hander Michael Lambert will start for the fourth straight year for the Broncos as quarterback. The senior has grown tremendously and played extremely well leading the Broncos to the upset of Cold Springs on Halloween weekend last fall.
Giving Lambert assistance to make the Broncos go on the offensive side will be running back Caleb Jones, wide receiver Dylan Morton and tight end Zach Naler.
All displayed their ability to generate plays during the Cold Springs' victory, and are now wanting to continue the momentum they had from that solid effort.
Three starters come back for 2016 up front. They are center Riley Gillilan and tackles Jason Foshee and Jacob Wilson. The Broncos will have new starters at the guard position.
Caleb Jones and Naler are valuable to the Broncos from the defensive side at the position of linebacker. Alex Corneglio is also a returnee at outside linebacker along with Tyler Boatright at linebacker, Romey Suryono and Luis Garcia in the secondary.
Holly Pond's season opener is in Gadsden on Aug. 19 with Coosa Christian. The is the first time the two have paired up on the gridiron.
Brindlee Mountain welcomes the Broncos to town Aug. 26. This is the fifth consecutive season the two are meeting, with the Broncos out to end a three-game losing streak to the Lions.
Bates' squad is in Region 6 of Class 3A for the season. The region opener is also the first game for Holly Pond at Thomas-Michelfelder Field.
J.B. Pennington makes a short drive from the Blountsville area on Sept. 2. Pennington has dropped back to 3A football after playing in Class 4A for the previous two years.
Another Blount County team deals with the Broncos Sept. 9, with a trip to Larry Patterson Field for a meeting with Susan Moore.
Holly Pond's bye week is set for Sept. 16. Then the Broncos resume the schedule with a first ever assignment Sept. 23 against Asbury, a school out of Marshall County.
Their third straight road game sends the Broncos to Locust Fork Sept. 30 for regional play and the end of the first half of the schedule.
The Broncos deal with the Hanceville Bulldogs at Holly Pond Oct. 7, play on a Thursday night, Oct. 13, at Fultondale and finish up the regional schedule Oct. 21 at home vs. the Vinemont Eagles.
Holly Pond ends the regular season Oct. 28 hosting their county rival, the Fairview Aggies.
This will be the 56th time the two have tangled in football since they both began the sport at the same time in 1963.
Bates is pleased to have an addition to his coaching staff. During the summer, Scott Adams accepted Bates' offer to return to the Broncos' sidelines. Adams had served as head coach from 2001 to 2005, producing 30 wins in the process and four consecutive playoff berths.
He will work with the interior line in his return to the sport after guiding the girls’ basketball team for the last seven years and producing success with three county titles and two state championship game appearances.
Bates will be coaching a program for the 29th year in his career. He is recognized for the success he established while at Cullman High School from 1993 to 2000, a total of 46 victories, a 26-7 record between 1998 to 2000. He led St. Paul's of Mobile to the 5A state title in 2007 by having a quarterback who would go on to great success at Alabama. His name is A.J. McCarron.
With experience returning and momentum from a hard fought victory, the Broncos will be pushing for their first playoff appearance since 2011.
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