This is the first in a series of stories previewing high school football teams in Lexington before the start of the 2017 season on Aug. 18:
Coach: Frank Parks (sixth year)
Last season: 4-7 (lost to Cooper in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs)
Outlook: The departure of seven starters from last season’s squad (all of whom attend Carter G. Academy, which is now housed on the campus of Frederick Douglass) could have made Parks’ sixth year at the helm a headache. In actuality, this year’s group of Defenders has been one of the easiest to coach, Parks said two weeks before the season kicked off.
“We have built good chemistry,” Parks said. “This is probably the group that has got along the most and become very close. And they’ve put in a lot of work. They’ve probably practiced better than any team I’ve had.”
In a way, the exodus helped bring the guys who remained closer together. It’s also served as a motivator — not just to improve themselves in the offseason, but get out in the halls and recruit guys to come play this fall.
“I think a lot of people left us for dead,” Parks said. “ … Those seniors want to leave out on a good note so they recruited some other kids to come out that have been valuable assets to our team, especially defensively.”
That said, the offense could be ahead of the defense early thanks to two major returnees: junior Jalen Burbage and senior Chris Jones, two of the city’s most electrifying players. Burbage threw for 1,853 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. He and Jones combined for more than 1,200 yards on the ground — almost all of Station’s rushing attack in 2016.
Other expected contributors: Chris Benton (sr. DL/OL), Kendrick Curry (jr. WR), Brandon Fields (jr. OL/DL), Isaiah Green (sr. DE), Er’ron Mitchell (sr. DB), DayVon Moore (sr. DE), Damiyan Ramirez (jr. OL), Shemar Rich (sr. WR), Deshawn Starks (jr. CB), Mike Thomas (sr. OL/DL)
William “Er’ron” Mitchell moved from cornerback to safety this season, and he loves the new role.
“At safety I get to see the whole field, call plays and just be a playmaker back there,” Mitchell said.
He was a “little nervous” about how the defensive backfield would look coming into the season. That eased over the summer.
“At first we were looking kind of rough, so that made me really nervous, but we’re looking really good right now and we’re looking like a really strong group,” Mitchell said.
Station is one of several teams around the city that will be sporting fresh jerseys in 2017. The Defenders’ new uniforms have yellow lettering with white numbers on a Station green base with darker green spots dotted throughout.
“It was between these and the black jerseys,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “I’m a little bit sad about the black jerseys but these are still pretty clean though. Adidas always keeps us looking clean.”
Parks: “We always have an exciting offense. Last year we struggled a bit but usually we put up some points. This year our defense, they’re aggressive and they run to the ball very well, so we’ll be a well-rounded team.”
Mike Thomas: “Everybody’s gonna do everything. We got some big guys that are gonna scoop and score, get some interceptions and break. We’ve got Chris who’s gonna take off and J-Burb. We got the whole receiving corps that’s gonna make something shake. We got everybody. Everybody’s gonna make some noise this year.”
(All times p.m.; home games in capital letters)
Aug. 18: x-Lafayette., 8:30
Aug. 25: SIMON KENTON, 7:30
Sept. 1: BELFRY, 7:30
Sept. 15: At Tates Creek, 7:30
Sept. 22: At Scott Co., 7:30
Sept. 29: At Frederick Douglass, 7:30
Oct. 6: At Male, 7:30
Oct. 13: HENRY CLAY, 7:30
Oct. 20: PAUL DUNBAR., 7:30
Oct. 27: At Madison Central, 7:30
x-At Tates Creek