The Columbia Tigers are coming off of a strong 2018 season and look to improve entering 2019. Tigers head coach Brian Allen joined Sportscene with Steve Russell to talk about key losses on the offensive line, their strong secondary and more.
2018 Season and Lee Rivalry
The Columbia Tigers finished last season 10-2. They were eliminated in the Class 7A regional semifinal by Lee High School 31-27. Also, the Tigers were the 15th ranked team in the state and went 4-0 in their district.
Coach Allen, a former NFL linebacker, spoke about the Lee Generals and their rivalry.
Key Losses and New-Look Offensive Line
The Tigers graduated 23 seniors last year and Allen spoke about how he expects his freshman and sophomores to step up this season.
Allen was quick to mention that he will especially miss three starters, all on the offensive line. Center Damien Lewis, tackle Zachary Bedenbaugh and tackle Mical Anderson will not be on the roster in 2019.
Senior Darius Kimble will take over Bedenbaugh’s spot at tackle and senior Marvin Farmer will be starting at center. Allen was confident in Farmer’s ability and believes there will not be a significant drop in production from the center position.
Furthermore, sophomore Jakob Jones will take a starting guard position. Junior Tyler Ford will take the second guard spot. Allen talked about having to find that fifth spot on the o-line and how he expects their offense to perform.
Strong Secondary and the Defense Going Forward
The 41-year-old coach also gushed about his secondary. He believes that it is the strongest group he has had in his nine seasons at Columbia. However, Allen acknowledged that the Tigers lost two key linebackers in Ethan Umstead and Jaylen Brown. Most noteworthy, senior Marlon Pollock will be the lone starting linebacker returning from the 2018 campaign. Allen expects him to step up as well.
When the defensive line was mentioned Allen focused on one aspect of their game: health.
If the d-line can stay healthy, Allen believes they will be very good up-front.
Quarterback Play and 2019 Outlook
Senior quarterback Jordan Smith is coming off of a season where he threw for 3,036 yards and rushed for 445 yards. Allen mentioned that Smith has developed significantly over the summer and will be a leader in 2019.
Over the three years that Smith has worked under Allen, his ability to pick up on defensive coverages has increased dramatically, so much so that Allen would have no problem handing the clipboard over to his quarterback.
Finally, the Tigers are the 17th ranked program in Florida and will start their season against IMG Academy on Aug. 17. IMG is ranked No.22 in the country and No.3 in Florida entering the season and will be a challenge for the underdog Tigers.