North Murray High School Mountaineers

August 7, 2013

Pressing forward

Few starters return for North Murray football

CHATSWORTH — North Murray High School football fans have a lot of new names to learn this season when it comes to the starting lineup.

From quarterback to nose guard and at lots of other positions, the Mountaineers will rely on players who didn’t have the responsibility of carrying the team last year, when it finished 5-5 in coach David Gann’s first season. It was the fourth season overall and third against varsity competition for North Murray, which went 1-19 over the previous two years.

The Mountaineers finished 2-5 against Region 5-3A competition in 2012, but they started the season 4-1 overall and had more legitimate hopes for the state playoffs than ever before entering the season’s second half.

A big reason the Mountaineers made progress was senior quarterback Brady Swilling, and one of North Murray’s biggest priorities in the offseason has been finding a suitable replacement for Swilling, who finished with more than 1,500 yards each rushing and passing last year. Swilling, who also played basketball and was a state medalist high jumper, is now a walk-on at Georgia Tech.

Hinton McConkey, a junior, is slotted to start behind center when the Mountaineers open their season Aug. 30 at Southeast Whitfield. A wide receiver last season, McConkey has impressed Gann as the leader of the Mountaineers’ triple-option offense.

“Our quarterback, Hinton McConkey, has really come on,” said Gann, whose team spent the latter portion of last week at Tusculum College in northeastern Tennessee, the same campus at which Dalton held its off-site preseason camp during the same time frame. “We lost a great one last year with Brady, but I really think Hinton has the potential to be that person. ... Brady does things Hinton couldn’t do, but Hinton does things Brady couldn’t do.”

Said McConkey, “We’re just two different types of runners.”

At 6 feet, 2 inches and 190 pounds, Swilling was bigger than McConkey (5-10, 160) is now. But McConkey is shiftier, and Gann said he has better arm strength.

“The thing Hinton doesn’t have is Brady’s experience,” Gann said.

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North Murray High School Mountaineers
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