PRATTVILLE -- The Prattville offense is looking for experience.
New faces are being counted on to fill holes at virtually every skill position. As the season rapidly approaches, first-year head coach Jamey DuBose is optimistic that the pieces will fall into place.
"We've got a whole new group working together," DuBose said. "It's a work in progress, but we're making strides. A few years ago, we were in the same situation. We didn't know who was going to step in and fill the void, but someone did. That's what it is going to take this year."
The two-time defending state champions got a glimpse of their skill players this week in Prattville's annual 7-on-7 passing camp.
"Facing our defense, it's tough to get a reading of where we are. You don't accomplish much against our defense," Prattville quarterbacks coach Tommy Goodson said. "That's one of the reasons it's been good for us to see some other defenses. Passing is just one aspect of it, but it's been good to see that we can move the ball."
DuBose is hopeful that this week's competition, as well as Hoover's national select 7-on-7 camp later this month, will help prepare the Lions.
"We've got depth, but we don't have game experience," said DuBose, who presently has around 160 varsity players. "Experience will come. We're trying to get as much experience in competitions like this as we can because we start the season with two strong teams right out the gate."
Prattville will play Oxford in an exhibition game at Cramton Bowl on Aug. 23. The Lions will open the season in Cincinnati against St. Xavier (Ohio) in the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Lions ended last season ranked No. 2 and St. Xavier was No. 5 in the final USA Today national high school football poll.
Junior Sam Gibson is the heir apparent at quarterback. Gibson played at Prattville in the seventh through ninth grades before moving with his parents to Florida last year. Gibson returned in May.
"I think Sam always knew he would be in line to play quarterback," Goodson said. "Missing last year hurt him a little. He was injured, so he wouldn't have been able to play, but he would have been able to go to the meetings and learn more. Not being around here has put him a little behind.
"Sam is eager to learn and he is coachable. He's got a long way to go but he's coming along. We were pretty successful throwing the ball on Wednesday."
Senior receiver Quaylen Moncrief said the new skill players are developing together.
"It was rough at first but we're getting used to each other," Moncrief said. "The newer guys are learning the plays and we're getting better. We need to keep getting reps and we'll keep getting better."
Moncrief and senior running back Jerodis Williams are the two lone returning skill players with significant game experience. Moncrief rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns last season and had 21 receptions for 197 yards and a score.
Williams began his junior season as a reserve receiver and backup running back. During the playoffs, Williams filled in for injured All-State running back Justin Albert and rushed for 477 yards and seven touchdowns in the final four games.
"Having Jerodis takes a little pressure off of everyone," Moncrief said. "We all know what he can do."
Williams earned MVP honors in the Class 6A state championship game with 116 yards and two touchdowns in the 14-0 win over Spain Park.
"Having a returning player at running back, you can't replace that," DuBose said. "He's game-tested and we know what he can do. You just don't know how important that is to a team's confidence.