They may be small in number, but the Freeport Bulldogs will be bringing plenty of experience, size and speed to the gridiron this season.
Freeport has 38 in the football program and will dress out about 20 to 25 on varsity under the Friday night lights.
They also have about 16 to 20 that will make up a junior varsity team.
Out of the group that will hit the gridiron on Friday nights, more than a dozen are repeat offenders.
“We have a good bit returning,” said first-year Freeport Head Coach Shaun Arntz.
On the defensive side of the ball they have about seven returning and six on the offensive side.
“We’ve got a good cast of experience and knowledge that have a great work ethic (that will be returning to the lineup this season),” Arntz said.
Leading the way on defense is Shannon “Junior” Carswell, Justin Clark and Jackson Ledford.
As for offense, “We’re looking to lean heavily on Zack Johnson, K’Wan Powell and Rajah Hooks,” Arntz said.
Johnson, a senior, will be returning in the quarterback slot. Last year, Johnson shared quarterback duties with Zack Seay.
This year, Powell will be in the backfield with Johnson and helping out at quarterback.
“He’s a freshman, so he’s got a lot to learn,” Arntz said.
But as for Johnson, “He should have full reign and has a full year under his belt. So we’re happy about that.”
Another aspect that Arntz is happy about is the size of his ’Dogs.
“Our size is still above average on the line,” he said, who served as defensive coordinator the last few years, before taking over as head coach. “Typically we might have a guy like 6-foot-3 or 4. But who cared how much he weighed on the line at that point, he was just big.
“Now we almost average on our O- and D-line, 6-foot-3, 250,” he said, noting he’s happy with the possibilities that size might bring. “That doesn’t guarantee anything, but it definitely gives you a leg up to begin with.”
One of those big guys on the Bulldogs roster is Carswell, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 295. A couple of other big ’Dogs are seniors Ace Jerico at 6-foot-2, 270, and Ian Harrison at 6-foot-4, 310.
Another thing that’s putting a smile on Coach Arntz's face is the speed of his Bulldogs.
“We’ve got some speed,” he said. “Rajah Hooks and K’Wan Powell both have game-breaking speed.”
So things are looking up this season for the Bulldogs, who finished up 6-4 last year.
“It’s been a real good start,” Arntz said of the first few days of practice. “We’ve had good attitudes, good participation and attention to detail. We’ve just got to stay healthy, not turn the ball over and keep the other team out of the end zone. … It can be good.”
Up first for the Freeport Bulldogs is a Kickoff Classic at South Walton at 7 p.m. on Aug. 18. Their first regular season game is 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at home against the Vernon Yellow Jackets.