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August 31, 2007

Q&A with coach Richard Mills

Q: How would you describe the state of your program?

A: "I think it's healthy. We had a little bit of a down year last year, but we're looking forward to a better year this year. We're making improvements."

Q: How would you sum up the 2006 season?

A: "A little disappointing. We just didn't come up with the leadership we needed and the offensive line never really jelled."

Q: Who are your top returning skill position players?

A: "Dewey McDonald (running back) has good speed, good hands and is able to read defenses when he's running. ... Tyler Hester (slot back) has very good speed, and he's very shifty. He can read the defenses while he's running, too."

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Q: Who are the top returning players at these positions?

Offensive line:

A: "James Bishop. He's big and pretty agile. He's gained a good bit of strength in the offseason and gained a good bit of conditioning. ... And Britton Puller. He's very determined and worked hard in the offseason. We're looking for leadership from him."

Defensive line:

A: "Tremain Bailey. He's just a hard worker. He's probably our strongest person in the weight room. ... A lot of our linemen will be going both ways."

Linebacker:

A: "McDonald and Hester and Timmy Oden. (Oden) is quick and a very sure tackler."

Secondary:

A: "Casey Johnson. He's kind of smallish (5-8, 140), but he's very quick and can read the ball very well. He moves to the ball very well, and he likes to hit."

Q: Who is the one departed player who will be most difficult to replace?

A: "Jonathan Hash (quarterback and linebacker). He was our leading tackler on defense and directed our offense last year. He was a three-year starter for us on varsity."

Q: Who are the "unknown" or new players who could make an impact in 2007?

A: "Josh Carlisle (lineman) is quick and strong, probably the second strongest kid on the team. ... Brandon Hyler is going to be our starter at quarterback. He has a good arm and is learning our offense very well. I'm hoping he can direct it very well."

Q: What is the biggest challenge your team will face this season?

A: "Working together as a unit. If they come together as a unit, they should be all right. And our schedule. We have a tougher schedule this year than last year. We picked up two playoff teams (Urbana and Brooke) on our schedule."

Q: What things must this team do to improve over the 2006 season?

A: "The main thing is our offensive line has to get together as a unit and play well. And our defense needs to hold us up until we come together on offense."

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