Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Voyage Deep into Playoffs Buoys Pirates Return of Lee, Palmer Has Coach Thinking Big

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Voyage Deep into Playoffs Buoys Pirates Return of Lee, Palmer Has Coach Thinking Big

Article excerpt

As quarterback Reshard Lee has improved over his career, so have the Brunswick Pirates.

As a junior last year, Lee (5 feet 11, 200 pounds) completed 96-of-196 passes for 1,536 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Pirates, not coincidentally, turned in their first undefeated regular season (10-0) and advanced beyond the second round of the state playoffs for the first time.

Now Lee returns for his final season. And coach John Willis and the Pirates have plenty of talent surrounding their preseason Super 11 quarterback. A deeper run in the playoffs seems called for.

"Once again, we're going to be a real speedy team, a team that runs well," Willis said.

Joining Lee on what has the potential to be an explosive offense are several rising seniors with honed experience as starters at skill positions. Included is the backfield duo of fullback Roosevelt Austell and tailback Earnest Palmer. Last year, Palmer ran for 1,590 yards with a 7.9-yard average and 15 touchdowns. Austell, a third-year starter, added 443 yards on 76 carries with seven touchdowns.

But lest defenses focus on the running game Lee will bury them through the air. The Pirates other returning skill players are receiver James Fuller and tight end Marty Dunham. Fuller set school records for receptions (30) and touchdown receptions (12). Dunham had 21 catches for 360 yards and eight touchdowns.

"We are the type of ballclub that can run and throw. We're very fortunate. We've got kids that can catch the football well, throw the football well and also do a good job of running it," Willis said. "Sometimes you can have one and not the other. We're very fortunate to have both."

However, there are a few vacancies on the offensive line. Only seniors Bryan Bennett (5-9, 240) and Tony Donato (6-3, 275) are returning starters. Making the second team All-Region last year at defensive end, 6-3, 225-pounder Darel Slay will play multiple positions this year, including offensive lineman and linebacker. …

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