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Football Preview: CPA faces uncertainty, but hopes to continue winning ways

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After an undefeated season and hoisting the Division II-AA state championship trophy, the fourth in the program’s history, all would seem solid with the football program at Christ Presbyterian Academy.

But after losing 31 seniors from that championship team, much is uncertain for coach Ingle Martin and his Lions entering 2019.

One of the most important holes is replacing departed quarterback Ryan Eledge. Currently four Lions have been sharing reps during fall camp, but there is no clear front-runner, coach Ingle Martin said.

“We’re blessed to have four kids who can compete,” he said. “It’s like any other position for us. We might play several of them. They all have done different things well.”

The quartet consists of senior Josh Roper, junior Zee Thompson and two sophomores, Cade Law and Jake Dykstra. The fall scrimmages were going to give a better picture of each player’s ability, but there is no timetable to select a permanent starter, Martin said.

“We’ve had a year where we had five or six running backs,” he said. “We’re excited they’re all on our team this year.”

The Lions have been a running back by committee team the last eight years, Martin said, so 2019 will be no different. But with five of the fastest players on the team playing running back, the outlook is promising.

Senior Andrew Whitely and junior Tyler Reid both got carries in significant moments a year ago, and now junior Will Hays and senior King Henderson will enter the mix as well, Martin said.

“We will have games where all those kids will play and get carries,” he said.

The Lions have a collection of players who can catch the football, including seniors Cade Williford, Sam Ellis, Hall Perdue, Barrett Smith and Jack Diamond. Also seeing reps are juniors Parker Beck, Maverick Rodriguez and Shelby Whiteside.

“They will all be split out at some point,” Martin said. “As much as we can, we want our kids out there playing.”

The offensive line is still a work in progress as well, with seven players seeing reps during camp thus far.

Seniors Jarrett Mathews and Sam Leonard saw action last season, but for the others, experience is sparse. Senior Zach Smitherman and juniors Jack Fowler, Spencer Dams, David Enoch and Graham Roten are all trying to figure out where they fit in the OL rotation.

“We just have to continue to grow and develop,” Martin said.

Smitherman, Mathews and Leonard are three of the primary choices to play defensive line as well, and others will fill in the rotation.

“We just want our best 11 kids out there every snap of the game,” Martin said.

At inside linebacker, Roper will see action on defense as well, along with Blake Ellen, Cade Reynolds and Langston Patterson. Smith, Perdue and Reid will be in the rotation at outside linebacker for the Lions, Martin said.

Six different players were seeing action at cornerback during camp, with Beck, Rodriguez, Hayes, Henderson and Drew Akin all vying for those two spots. At safety, the Lions have been working Whitely, Ellis, senior North Pinkley, Law and Dykstra.

“Whitely and Ellis started a bunch of games, and Smith started a bunch for us,” Martin said. “Different people are going to be available and step up at different times.”

The special teams duties will be handled again by junior kicker Mac Seibert and punter Ellis, but sophomore Ryan Rinker will be an option as well, Martin said.

This story and photos are included in the 2019 Williamson Herald High School Football Media Guide! Pick up your copy for stories like this, full schedules, predictions and more!

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