E.A. Sports Today

Donoho: Foster a big piece

Justin Foster (L) will fill a lot of roles for Donoho coach Shannon Felder this season. Notice the message on the plaque above Foster's head.

Justin Foster (L) will fill a lot of roles for Donoho coach Shannon Felder this season. Notice the message on the plaque above Foster’s head.

Versatile senior getting a lot of attention, but Falcons have several weapons

Editor’s note: This is another in the series of previews of Calhoun County high school football teams.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

At 6-feet-4 and 240 pounds, Justin Foster will be one of the easiest players to spot coming off the Donoho team bus this season and opposing coaches no doubt will be aware of his every move on the field.

And the Falcons plan to use the athletic senior in a number of ways, so keeping up with him will be as much a full-time enterprise as the “get-back” coach on the sideline. But if opponents think Foster is the only weapon available to the Falcons, coach Shannon Felder is here to say they’re selling his team short.

“If teams think about our team, one of the first guys who come to your mind is going to be Justin, and it’s been that way for the past couple years,” said Felder, who enters his 11th year at the Falcons’ helm, “but the mistake a team will make is believing he’s the only player we have.

“There’s no doubt he’s our best athlete, but we’ve got several guys who can make plays and get the job done. The thing with Justin is, if you watched our spring game, we moved him around, but we also showed we had other people who could make plays.

“This is a good senior class. If I gave you my top three, it’d start with the 2006 team and then 2011, and this is another of those. I certainly would like to see us have that type of success.”

The 2006 team went 12-1, the 2011 squad went 11-2. Both reached the third round of the playoffs. The difference between those teams and this edition is those first two teams struggled as freshmen. This team’s seniors were the 2011 freshmen, have never endured a losing season or missed the playoffs since 2009 and are 23-10 the last three years.

The group also includes Axis Heathcock, the 6-foot-7 tackle around whom the Falcons’ line revolves; quarterback Trey Brown, receivers Sam Garner, Thomas Conley and Dalten Martin, running back Ben Myrick and linemen Parker Morgan and Jake Ulrey.

Still, the biggest piece is Foster. He’s listed on the roster as a running back and linebacker, but he’ll show up just about anywhere – running back, wing, tight end, everywhere on defense. Last season he rushed for 615 yards and seven touchdowns and recorded 90 tackles and an interception. He already has received a No. 1 national ranking for tight end at the NIKE Sparq Combine and No. 1 defensive end at the Southern Elite Combine.

People at the next level have noticed. Going into his senior year, Foster has narrowed his top three college choices to Georgia State, Samford and South Alabama, but Mississippi State, Memphis, Minnesota and Kentucky have been showing interest lately. He said he’d make “my final decision” by Sept. 25.

“In the spring game he got maybe four or five touches because we know the impact he has to have for us is going to be huge offensively, but it’s an absolute must defensive,” Felder said. “So, we have to keep him fresh for defense and then use him at the right times offensively.”

And that’s just fine with Foster.

“I understand the people are going to be looking for me and that’s a good thing,” he said. “I want to leave my mark to where people know what’s expected of me, but the thing about our team is we have so many weapons if they’re expecting me, they have to expect 10 other guys.

“Everybody is one unit. If you stop one person, you’re not going to stop the next – or the next. That’s the good thing about our team – we’re so versatile. We have receivers, running backs, quarterbacks. We have a line that could probably play those positions. Our team is very good. I have to step up as a leader, but if I play my role and everybody does, we’ll have a good team.”

Al Muskewitz is Content Editor/Senior Writer of East Alabama Sports Today. He can be reached at musky@wrightmediacorp.com and followed on Twitter @easportstoday1

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