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September 6, 2012
St. Lukes Episcopal School

St. Luke's Aaron Bryant ready to go after sitting out 2011 season (video)

, August 22, 2012 1:54 p.m.

(St. Luke's senior Aaron Bryant is expected to play running back and receiver this year.)

MOBILE, Alabama -- It didn’t take new St. Luke’s coach John Beverly long to see what he had in Aaron Bryant.

“When we saw him for the first time, we definitely knew we had someone who could play some football,” Beverly said.

Bryant, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior, sat out last season after transferring from McGill-Toolen. He is listed as a wide receiver on the preseason scouting report, but Beverly said he also will play running back and free safety.

Bryant practiced last year but couldn’t play. Needless to say, he’s chomping at the bit to get into a real game.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s been a long year. I’ve been working hard in the offseason and I’m ready to go. I’m just ready to get out there and make something happen.”

Beverly expects Bryant to be a key piece of St. Luke’s offense. The Wildcats run a pistol formation with wing-T principles.

“It allows us to have two running backs on the field, or slotbacks as we like to call them, as well as one fullback,” Beverly said. “So we basically have a backfield with three running backs with one of those backs slotting out to a receiver position with our main wide receiver on the other side.”

In the offense, the fullback is the main runner and is lined up in the backfield all the time. That position belongs to George Payne, a 6-1, 194-pound senior who ran for 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011. Justin Ware will join Bryant and Payne in the backfield. Dalton Becker (765 yards, 7 TDs) will be the main receiver.

“We’ve got a lot of weapons,” junior quarterback Drew Favors said. “It’s nice. The older they get, the faster they seem to get and the better they make me look.”

St. Luke’s finished just 2-8 last year and is 4-13 in its two AHSAA seasons.

But the missing ingredient last year may have been watching from the sideline.

“What Aaron does for us is open our offense up,” Beverly said. “He’s a guy who can twist and turn and plant on a dime and moves very well. He is a space player. He is a person who can catch a short ball and go deep. It doesn’t really take much for him to explode on the field.

“We’ll try to get him the ball anyway we can,” Beverly continued. “He will also open the field for our other guys.”

Bryant probably won’t be a secret when the Wildcats open the season. He turned heads with his play in several 7-on-7 tournaments this summer.

“I think those events helped our team a lot,” Bryant said. “I think it showed we can compete with anyone and everybody. We feel like we will be able to move the ball no matter who we play.”

Payne said he is perfectly willing to spread the wealth in a multi-faceted offense.

“I think we are going to be explosive,” he said. “Aaron really opens a lot up for us. We’ve got the running game with me and Justin. We are a no-huddle team, a fast-paced team, and I think that will really help us.”

Something else that should help the team is increased leadership. The Wildcats have their first senior class since the program started from scratch four years ago.

That seven-member class includes the entire starting backfield.

“I think folks used youth as an excuse in the past and maybe that was part of the reason we didn’t have as much leadership,” Becker said. “I think that will be different this year. I think we will step up. We know what is at stake and know this is our last chance.”

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