Beekman clearly made some inroads last season, winning its first game, winning its first district game and making the playoffs for the first time in the program's three-year history. A new challenge is on the horizon as the Tigers move up to Class 2A this season.
As the Tigers approach Friday night's scrimmage at Crossett, coach Wade McDonald has some concerns.
"The weather hasn't helped us at all," McDonald said Monday after a downpour forced the Tigers to move indoors. "We're so far behind. I'm hoping after the scrimmage that the kids will realize we have to declare a state of emergency and get urgent. The season starts next week."
Sophomore Brock Jenkins enters his first season as the starting quarterback after playing sparingly last season.
"Brock was our backup quarterback last year, so being the starter is new for him," McDonald said. "A lot is going to depend on how he soaks everything in and handles the pressure. So far, he's picked up the offense really well. Of course, we won't really know a whole lot until he faces someone other than us."
Senior Chad Jones, eighth-grader Willie Williams and freshman Scott McMath are the reserve quarterbacks.
Senior Johnny Gipson will see an increased role in the running game following the departure of Jalen Jones (115 carries, 838 yards, 6 touchdowns).
"Johnny will be going both ways, and will be our feature back in certain formations," said McDonald, who begins his third year as Beekman's head coach. "He's been one of the brighter spots since I've been here. He's been our constant. He's one of those kids every coach loves to coach."
Sophomore transfer James Foster and eighth-grader Taron Taylor will spell Gipson.
"I think James Foster is going to help us tremendously on both sides of the ball at running back and linebacker," McDonald said. "Taron Taylor is a 14-year-old eight-grader. He's going to play junior high and senior high, and help us out at running back and linebacker."
Seniors Chad Jones and Zeb Morgan are the only experienced receivers. Williams and junior C.J. Paige will also get the opportunity to contribute.
"Receiver is one spot where we're lacking a little," McDonald said. "We're hoping C.J. Paige will step up and help us out."
Junior Ethan White returns at tight end.
The offensive line has yet to take shape.
"That's a good question," McDonald said when asked to name the starters.
Senior Dylan Gandy and sophomore Josh Nelson are the only fixtures. Sophomore Dalon Moore will also see action up front, though McDonald would prefer to allow him to focus more on defense. Seth Myers is another option on the front wall.
Center is the biggest question mark on the offensive line.
"We are still looking for somebody to step up at center," McDonald said. "We have three guys we're looking at, and we're waiting for one of them to step up and take over."
End may be the Tigers' strongest defensive position. Moore, who logged 44 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and a team-high 7 sacks as a freshman en route to garnering first-team All-District 2-1A acclaim, is joined on the edge by White.
"Those two together are going to be pretty tough," McDonald said. "It's just a matter of finding some guys inside."
Also available at defensive end is sophomore Pierce Hayman (21 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries).
Sophomore Xavier Lewis will hold down one of the tackle spots, while the other side remains up for grabs.
"We're expecting big things out of Xavier Lewis," McDonald said. "It's just a matter of getting him to realize his potential. He's a big kid with a lot of upside."
Linebacker is the deepest position on the team. Lucas Lara (52 tackles) and Myers will start inside, while the outside posts have yet to be determined.
"Linebacker is where we're loaded. We have them old and we have them young," McDonald said. "Lucas and Seth are our inside guys and we have four or five who can play outside."
Seniors Cobe Matthews (30 tackles, 1 interception) and Clayton Nunn (28 tackles), who were named first and second-team All-District, respectively, heads up the secondary. Williams and Paige are also projected to figure into the equation.
Williams' long list of tasks will also including kicking..
"We are going to try to kick extra points this year," McDonald said. "We're probably not going to worry about it in the scrimmage so much. Hopefully, by next week we'll have that taken care of."
The return game was a huge asset for the Tigers last season as Morgan and Matthews established themselves as home run threats. Morgan returned 14 kickoffs for a 32.2-yard average and two touchdowns, and added a 70-yard punt return for a score. Matthews returned six kickoffs for a 27-yard average with one touchdown.
Other candidates for action include senior defensive end Lane Boykin, freshman tight end/defensive end Riley Mardis, freshman wide receiver/defensive back Wesley Priestly, sophomore running back/linebacker Deantavious Sanders, freshman wide receiver/defensive back Gage Crymes, junior wide receiver/defensive back Jaquinten Killian, junior outside linebacker Jacob Crawford, sophomore tight end/defensive end Ashton Grice, junior defensive back Riley Faulkenberry, freshman linebacker Dawson Moore, freshman linebacker Cole Honeycutt, freshman linebacker Dillon Bunch, freshman lineman Jacoby Hollins, sophomore offensive lineman/linebacker Aiden Cherry, sophomore defensive end Mitchell McKinnie, freshman linebacker Ethan Craft, eighth-grade lineman Tucker Lee Fincher and freshmen linemen Parker Jordan, Ethan Nelson and Cam Harrell.
Beekman has three new coaches this season. Rob Perry has joined the staff as strength and conditioning coach/defensive coordinator following a stint at Crossett.
"I think the kids have really taken a liking to coach Perry," McDonald said. "He's pretty intense."
John Nix is the new offensive line coach while Zach Hamm is coaching the varsity receivers and will assist with the junior high. Both were at St. Frederick last season.
2107 BEEKMAN SCHEDULE
Aug. 25 Crossett Scrimmage
Beekman vs. Drew Central, 6:30 p.m.
Drew Central vs. Crossett
Beekman vs. Crossett
Sept. 1 at LaSalle
Sept. 8 at Homer
Sept. 15 Lakeside
Sept. 22 at Vidalia
Sept. 29 Mangham*
Oct. 6 at Delhi Charter*
Oct. 20 Rayville*
Oct. 27 at General Trass*
Nov. 3 Ferriday*