The Trojans have been working out all month and during their own team camp June 4-5 fielded three teams with several players showing they could be suiting up for varsity come November.
“We’ve got three teams in this and we’ve got them split up. Some of the guys are playing in this group, could be playing in the second group and they could be playing over here. We just want to try to get opportunities to see them all play. We have to fill four starter spots and then really three, four, five bench spots,” Carrollton coach Tim Criswell said.
Carrollton lost two-time Times-Georgian All-Area Most Valuable Player Josh Barge, along with starters Telvin Brown, Torrey Johnson and Jarrod Wyatt, and then key reserves Aaron Hartpence and Fruit Thomas to graduation.
Returning from last year’s varsity squad is starter Riley Criswell and backup point guard Javarious Jackson. With the other spots needing to be filled, the leadership from those two players will be vital as they step up their roles on the team as rising seniors.
“They’re the only two that have significant varsity experience. They’ll have to carry a big load for us and I think they’re ready to do that. [Jackson] is one of those guys that just got caught behind a great player in Telvin Brown — and it’s hard to get Telvin off the court a lot — so he was in a tough situation. He’ll be on the court plenty this year. He’ll be our ball guy, run the show guy,” Criswell said.
“Riley is going to have to score more for us and do some things for us. Then we’ve got some guys that are stepping up and showing good things for us.”
Some of those players fighting for the other starting spots and to be role players from the bench are Monte Glenn, Malik Sheppard, Trey Shivers, Will Hesterlee, Byron McCall and several others.
“We’ve got a lot of guys fighting for playing time and we’ve got a lot of guys capable of getting in there and getting playing time. Right now, the water is a little muddy to who it’s going to be, but I think by the end of the summer we’ll have it cleared up and have an idea going into next year who our top nine, 10 guys are going to be and we’ll go from there,” Criswell said.
The summer has been good to Criswell and his squad, as they have seen a lot of competition at various camps and individual play dates.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far. We went to Clayton State [earlier] and played some games, did well. We played some games with LaGrange and New Manchester and did OK. We’re out here against good competition like Newnan. Summer is a time to watch kids play and see what we’re going to look like next year,” Criswell said.
The starting squad won’t be set in the summer, but it is a time for Criswell and his staff to evaluate the talent coming back and the best way each player can fit and contribute.
“We’ve got a lot of different ways to go and different combinations to use. We’ve just got to let it evolve. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a while. We’re just going to keep grinding at it, keep playing games, do some practicing and see what turns out best for us. We’re enjoying it, kids are working hard, so far everything’s been good,” Criswell said.
After its own camp, Carrollton went to the University of West Georgia, Marietta High School, Georgia State and Alexander before finishing the summer with a trip to Kennesaw.
“It’s been good so far. We just have to keep working. Get more games and get more experience and I think we’ll be fine,” Criswell said.