By Morgan Bryce
“Playoffs or bust” is the mantra of the Beulah High School Bobcats heading into the 2018 football season.
Coming off a 3-7 finish last year, second-year Coach Cody Flournoy said he and his players are working toward obtaining the program’s first playoff berth in 11 seasons.
Following is a unit-by-unit breakdown of the Bobcats, with information on key departures, returnees and newcomers to watch during the coming season.
Prolific receiver Tez Turner and last season’s starting quarterback Nolan Earle are gone, but Flournoy said the offense should still be able generate an abundance of points and yards.
“I believe our offense is set to execute better because we’re going into our second year of this system with Matt (Johnson). It’s that Auburn, Gus Malzahn-type offense that’s fast paced going to get a lot of snaps and get the ball to our playmakers out in space,” Flournoy said. “This system sets up well for our group, particularly with a smaller but faster offensive line. Speed sweeps, option read and RPOs (run-pass option plays) will be a big part of our playbook.”
Lonzie Portis is slated to take over at quarterback following a stand-out spring performance. Using his speed and agility, Flournoy said Portis’s arm talent and blazing-quick speed will cause concern for opposing defensive coordinators.
Last season’s team-leading rusher and top college prospect Caden Dowdell returns, and along with Quinn Page, provide balance and extra options for Portis out of the backfield.
Dashawn Jones, a newcomer, looks to replace Turner on the outside. Dowdell and Page will see some time at receiver, and senior tight end Justin Hancock will line up in the slot, using his big frame and deceiving speed to cause matchup issues for opposing secondaries.
With an average of nearly 200 pounds, the offensive line is on the “smaller end” according to Flournoy, but a “perfectly designed group” for a spread offense.
Junior center Jake Buffington returns as the group’s anchor. Key guard Grant Webb returns, and others like Zack Smith and Trevor Mapp are expected to contribute in rotation at tackle.
Several offensive players are expected to play both ways for the Bobcats.
Utilizing a 3-4 base defense, Flournoy said Dowdell, Page, Hancock and K.C. Moore will be the four starting linebackers.
Kain Lathom and Isaiah Glidewell are expected to be key cogs on the line of scrimmage.
Last season’s blue-chip safety Dylan Coleman returns, leading a solid secondary along with speedy corners Ty Williams and Quay Johnson.
Following the departure of the versatile punter/kicker Robbie Speed, the Bobcats will be searching for answers at the kicking position.
Austin Billingsley, Jacob Burdette and Chance Franks will vie for the starting job in the early days of fall practice.
Glidewell booted a 70-plus yard punt during Beulah’s spring game v. Valley, solidifying himself as the punter.
Turner’s departure leaves holes in the Bobcats’ kickoff and punt return units. Those will be filled in by committee throughout the season.
A member of the AHSAA’s 3A Region 3, Beulah will see an uptick in strength of competition from last season’s region winner Montgomery Academy and newcomer schools like region St. James and the previously 4A classified Dadeville Tigers.
With a full football year under his belt, Flournoy said he believes he is slowly but surely building a solid foundation for a program yearning for success.
“Those good programs that win year-in and year-out, there’s a reason for that. It’s not just one thing – it’s a bunch of factors that contribute to a winning attitude, culture and program,” Flournoy said. “We got some good things and some stuff that we need to work on, but we have a community and school that support us every Friday night.”
The Bobcats’ 10-game schedule is split evenly, with five home and five road contests. Below is Beulah’s full schedule:
Aug. 24 – @ Loachapoka
Aug. 31 – v. Ellwood Christian
Sept. 7 – v. Montgomery Academy
Sept. 14 – v. Prattville Christian Academy
Sept. 21 – @ Southside
Oct. 5 – @ Bullock County
Oct. 12 – v. St. James
Oct. 19 – @ Dadeville
Oct. 26 – v. Pike Road Schools
Nov. 2 – @ McKenzie.
For more information or updates, like and follow the Beulah Football Facebook page. The school is located at 4848 Lee Road 270 in Valley.