Gosnell Pirates wrap up spring practice
GOSNELL—The Gosnell Pirates football program took the field Monday afternoon for its final spring practice. Coming off the season ending loss to the Prairie Grove Tigers, 48-26, in the quarterfinals, the Pirates look to repeat as 4A-3 conference champions and make a long postseason run in November. Pirates head coach Brandon Barbaree is also returning for his second season at the helm.
Since the season ended on Nov. 25, the Pirates lost 12 seniors, including five linemen, four running backs, three wide receivers and a backup quarterback.
“We’re missing a lot of seniors but we are going to be young — young and talented —in our backfields and on the line but the great thing is we’ve got in nine of our 10 spring practices and getting in and out of practices will help with constancy,” Barbaree said.
Also, longtime Pirates assistant coach Mark Blount announced retirement recently. “We are still looking for assistant coaches; Coach Blount’s a big hit for us just because he was always so consistent and always here. He did a heck of a job with our running backs and was a great person for Gosnell,” Barbaree said. “ Great person, coaching, in our community and in our schools.”
During the offseason, junior starting quarterback Brandon Partee transferred to Blytheville High School. However, Partee moved back to the Gosnell School District and participated in spring drills for the Pirates. “With Brandon coming back it helps with depth, because Brett (Barbaree) and Cameron (Morris), the two guys that have been working at the quarterback, are also our two best tight ends,” Barbaree said. “One, it gives us depth at quarterback. Now I know there are other guys that can do it. If something does happen and Brandon has to come out, we have another guy that can come in and run the play but with him coming back it provides a lot more depth on that line and a lot more trust. Those guys have started a bunch of games for us, so they make us a lot better on the line and they know it. So we feel confident with Brandon coming back that we can put up some numbers.”
Barbaree said that area to improve is the young offensive line, but he believes with more reps and time the line will progresses.
“The thing about our offense is constancy,” Barbaree said. “We’ll look really good one day on the offensive line, and we are taking the wrong steps the next day. When you’re young, you’re going to make those little mistakes, but (it takes) just getting used to doing the same thing over and over and trying to perfect it.”
Barbaree said defensively the Pirates will return four linemen and two linebackers (Hunter Jolly and Devin Burks), who played a lot of snaps last season, and the defense will be fast. “We are going to be good defensively,” Barbaree said. “Defensively, we are going to return four defensive linemen, three of whom played a whole lot last season, and then two linebackers in Hunter Jolly and Devin Burks that started a bunch and then we’ll be fast defensively. I think we have a chance to be better, of course, it’s just if we have a great summer we’ll be better and, if not, we’ll have to compete as hard as we can. But I expect for us to have a great summer.”