E.A. Sports Today

Bethune back, Bulldogs ready

Anniston quarterback returns after missing all last season with injury, Bullock likes what that means for his team

Anniston quarterback Savion Bethune (10) gets a play from offensive coordinator Shannon Felder during Thursday’s spring game against Tyner (Tenn.) Academy.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today


When Anniston football coach Eddie Bullock heard those two little words from senior quarterback Savion Bethune, he knew things were looking up for the Bulldogs.

Bethune saw his first live action since suffering a broken leg in the Bulldogs’ jamboree game last fall. He directed the first-team offense in two protected quarters against Tyner (Tenn.) Academy in a 16-0 spring game loss at Jacksonville State and by all early assessments “did a great job.”

Bethune was seconds from coming out of the jamboree against Holt last year when his life and football career came to a crushing halt. He was rolling out to throw the ball away when he was hit as soon as he planted his leg and his upper right leg exploded. He missed the entire football and basketball seasons and, at times, wondered if he’d ever play again.

He played Thursday with a red jersey to remind the Rams defenders he couldn’t be hit, but that decision cut both ways. It limited some of the things Bethune could do as well. Still, the Bulldogs saw enough to know their quarterback was ready.

“Just seeing your quarterback back … is a big deal,” Bullock said. “He had to mentally get over his injury. I asked him to go out on the field and do what he did. We’re going to be all right.

“In practice, he did everything he needed to do. I told him your big real test is going to be when we get out on the field. He told me, ‘Coach, I’m ready I’m ready I can’t wait to get out there.’ So I’m happy. I’m extremely pleased with what I saw. I think we going to do some great things in the fall. I see it coming.”

Bethune wasted little time showing he was back. He completed his first pass on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage, a ball that was close to being intercepted that Jamaree West plucked out of mid-air for a 17-yard gain. He also had a 16-yard completion off his back foot to Jacquez Maynor. In all, he was 5-for-13 for 44 yards and an interception.

Considering the circumstances, offensive coordinator Shannon Felder thought Bethune did a “great” job. “He’s definitely right on track to getting back to where he was last year,” Felder said.

The quarterback came to the sideline to get every the play from Felder because the Bulldogs didn’t have their wristbands for the game, but don’t expect that to be the norm next season.

“It just felt good being out there,” Bethune said. “Most people probably wouldn’t have come back and played; I just feel blessed to be out here and come play with my team. I used to come to the games and would always see my team and it hurt me a lot because I wanted to be out there with them.

“I’ve been looking forward to this a lot. I missed out the rest of my junior year and I wanted to come back my senior year and show everybody what we can do.”

Another aspect of the game that has Bullock excited is his defense. When the first teams were playing each other, the teams played to a scoreless first half. The Bulldogs rose up defensively when the Rams were in a position to threaten.

An interception set up the visitors from Chattanooga on the Anniston 30, but the Bulldogs dropped it for 11 yards in losses on the first two snaps, then on fourth-and-2 they stuffed the visitors after a yard. Tyner scored its two touchdown with its first team against the Bulldogs’ second group in the second half.

“I said if we don’t do anything else our goal is to hold them to zero points,” Bullock said. “Not being arrogant, but I feel like we can play that kind of defense. I told them the offense has done well in practice and kind of jelled, but we’ve got to give them time. I gave the defense high standards, high expectations from the beginning. This was the goal, zero points, and they met that goal. I feel great about it.”

“I just thank God he’s back, he’s going to be healthy and he’s going to be pulling the trigger for us this year,” Bullock said.

Without Bethune last year, the Bulldogs turned to athletic Marrio Dobbins at quarterback and went 2-8. The biggest element they had to overcome was the trust factor with a new quarterback, an element they won’t have to go through with Bethune returning.

“That’s the greatest adjustment you can make. Your starting quarterback gets hurt, you’ve got to change everything. And then you’ve got to change the mindset, the way the team thinks and how they feel. We gave ourselves a chance, but I think we’ve got a shot at doing well.”

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