With a tough non-region schedule to begin the season, the last thing Billy Hurston needed was for his team to be hit with the injury bug.
Unfortunately for the St. James football team, it has happened.
The good news? Hurston expects incumbent starting quarterback Chase Smith - who broke his knee cap in the spring - to be 100 percent to start the season.
The bad news?
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Other key players - No. 1 wide receiver Caleb Duggan and starting guard and long snapper Austin Brown - were injured late in the preseason. Not to mention tailback Deshawn Cox, who is recovering from a broken tibia and fibula and is several weeks away from returning, according to Hurston.
However, Hurston expects his younger players to benefit from early-season play before the team gets fully healthy, which could be right around the time region play begins.
"If we can get everybody healthy and get through these first five games, get some experience for our young kids, I think we're going to be tough in our five region games," Hurston said. "Hopefully we win three of our first five non-region games - they're going to be tough, all of them."
Though Smith returns, he won't be getting all the snaps under center. Hurston plans on platooning Smith with fellow senior Carl Buddin - at least for now.
"We run the same offenses with them. Chase is probably a little stronger running for short yardage. Carl right now is probably a little bit more mobile. They both throw the ball about the same," Hurston said. "We're going to play them both, give them reps, and if there's a clear-cut winner, the other one is probably going to go to tight end.
"We're in a great position if one of them gets nicked up or hurt - or if one is just playing better than the other one. Wilson won a state championship two-platooning, Alabama won the national championship two-platooning."