SPORTS HEADLINES

To the starting line: Eagles seek tougher tone

By Richard Greene | Published Sunday, August 1, 2010

STARTING TO MAKE A MARK - Decatur head coach Kyle Story begins striping the practice field. The Eagles and other area teams will start two-a-days Monday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A 2-7 finish left the Decatur Eagles on the outside looking in at playoff time last season and with plenty of motivation as they hit the field for the start of 2010.

“Internally I believe there’s motivation to step up and have a better season and turn it around,” said Decatur coach Kyle Story.

The Eagles and Story will start that process, taking the field for the start of two-a-days at 8 a.m. Monday.

Story begins his 11th season on the Eagles’ sidelines with a focus on setting a tougher mindset in his squad.

“The last couple of years, we haven’t played tough enough,” the coach said. “We need to get the team’s attitude changed to play more physical and tougher. We’ve got to develop a tougher culture.”

Story said that starts at the top with him and his staff.

GEARING UP FOR SEASON - Decatur assistant coach Heath Tullous climbs to reach shoulder pads in the fieldhouse Thursday morning. The Eagles and area teams will start practice Monday morning. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Eagles will try to get tough play up front with a reworked offensive line. Decatur returns only two linemen with significant playing time – Jonathan Alling and Cole Selby.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys up front,” Story said. “There’s not much varsity experience. It’s a unit that has to step up.

“They’ve got to be dominant. They don’t get a lot of credit, but we need them to take care of business. As they go, the team will go.”

The Eagles will continue to run the spread behind that offensive line. Senior quarterback Tyler Hodges returns to lead the offense after rushing for 570 yards and six touchdowns on 115 carries. He threw for 180 yards and four scores.

Hodges could share time at quarterback with junior Garrett Muehlstein.

Defensively, Decatur will base its scheme out of the 4-3.

“We had a good spring,” Story said. “Hopefully we step out Monday and have a good recall of what we did in the spring.”

Hodges returns to the defensive backfield after securing a first-team 5-3A selection a year ago, making 58 tackles, a sack and an interception.

Linebackers Kaleb Montes and Colton Parker return to lead the unit.

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