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New Preston football coach Mark Deep already familiar with Knights

KINGWOOD — First-year Preston head football coach Mark Deep is familiar with his new team through his time with the Preston Squires, a middle school program filled with players from the many schools in the county.

“I’ve probably had 80% of the kids in the past, so I know most of the kids and it’s been a good transition,” Deep said.

He also hopes to build on the already well-sized roster for the Knights compared to past years.

“We’re in about the 40s right now. Hopefully, we’ll pick up more kids as we move on, but it fluctuates. The kids aren’t here with vacations and so fourth with work but we’re hoping to get up into the 50s by Aug. 2,” Deep said.

The team has lost most of their skill position players from last year after graduation, as well as former head coach Jonathan Tennant, who resigned from the position last November after spending eight seasons with the Knights.

Preston went 3-7 in 2020 — one of the few fortunate to play a full schedule — after making the Class AAA playoffs in 2019, finishing 4-7.

But Deep is confident in his seniors on the offensive line, as he hopes for it to be his team’s greatest strength.

“We are looking for some big things from Todd Fraley at tight end and Chase Blaney and Tyler Jefferies on the line. Our line hopefully will be our strength of the team since there are more returning starters from last year,” he said.

Blaney, an upcoming senior who also starts at middle linebacker, also agrees the key to this year’s success will be the offensive line’s performance.

“The defense has always been strong but I feel like our offense is going to pick it up again this year so it’s going to be a pretty stout team,” Blaney said. “We’ve been working on getting our linemen in check this year. Just trying to figure everything out so we can have a really strong offense too, not just a strong defense.”

When asked about any standout games on the schedule, Deep showed his outlook on the season is rather simple.

“The first game is the important one. We’re looking at Hampshire now and then in the second game, we’ll be looking at North Marion. It’s a cliche, but really with us, it’s just one at a time. Go out and if we can get a win there, try and build some confidence in the players then see if we can get it rolling from there,” he said.

Deep also is looking for a new culture and mindset within the program in order to improve not only this season, but over the long haul, too.

“As a team we just need to change how we go about our everyday practice. I told the kids that if we’re going to build a program here at Preston then the first thing is showing up. You’ve got to show up to build something,” he said.

So far, Deep describes his attendance as “decent” but understands where his kids are from, citing that some of his team has other obligations such as farm work, but only asks them to buy in and stay committed.

The Knights will start their season Aug. 27 as they open on the road against Hampshire.

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