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Football Preview: Crawford optimistic amid Brentwood’s rebuilding effort

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With an extremely tough schedule and some key holes that need to be filled from last year, the Brentwood Bruins have little margin for error entering 2019.

The Bruins have to replace their entire offensive line from last season, a team that went 10-3 and lost to Ravenwood in the Class 6A quarterfinals. But head coach Ron Crawford is optimistic in his group and its potential.

“No. 1, we have to solidify the offensive line,” he said. “We’re looking for some other guys who can contribute there.”

Seniors Tyler Bell and Austin Lowe have some starting experience from a year ago, but after that, it’s been a guessing game, Crawford said. Senior Stone Roston has moved to center from the defensive line, but his 6-foot-2, 265-pound frame works in his favor. Another senior, Aiden Kennedy, was an outside linebacker who now will line up at tackle after putting on 20 pounds in the offseason.

Junior Luke Connor is another one in the mix, along with juniors Mason Mitchell and Chris Mondzlewski and senior Keyshawn Gallon, who also plays on the defensive line.

“We’re looking for eight,” Crawford said. “We’d like to have 10, but we want to have at least eight (in the rotation).”

That group will be crucial for the Bruin offense, especially to protect returning quarterback Cade Granzow, who had 27 touchdowns and played in 12 games as a sophomore. His health and success rely greatly on the progress of theoffensive line.

“Cade gives us the opportunity to be successful,” Crawford said. “I think we just got to the tip of the iceberg last year. He has great character, and he’s a great teammate.”

But Brentwood has to replace several of its skill players on offense as well, especially in the backfield, where junior Luke Walters and sophomore Scott Collins are very green at the varsity level. Walters, however, is a state track qualifier in the 400-meter dash, and Collins was a freshman starter for the Bruins’ baseball team, so both have talent, Crawford said.

At receiver, seniors Walker Merrill, Garner Jones and Clay Hanley will be targets for Granzow, along with sophomore Aaron Walton and tight ends Austin Spradlin and Karson Dreier, both seniors. Merrill is one of the most experienced and has received multiple scholarship offers, Crawford said.

On the defensive line, Gallon returns as a starter, along with junior James Lowe, who started most of last season. Seniors Anders Mount and Grantly Johnson are also in the rotation on the defensive line.

The linebacking corps is senior heavy, with Jack Wells, Kaleb Williford, Xiere Howard, Sterling Ambrose and Will Laughlin, along with junior J.P. LaBreche. Howard, Ambrose and Laughlin at ILB are three of the Bruins’ best, so Crawford wants to keep them all on the field.

“We’ll need all three,” he said. “If we can get those three guys healthy, we want them all on the field.”

The secondary is led by senior safety Bryce Bergholtz, a two-year starter, along with fellow senior Davis Witt. Both started all of last year and will be crucial in the back of the defense.

At corner, four guys are in the mix, led by junior John Howse, who started all 13 games as a sophomore, along with seniors Grant Shacklett and Cooper Finch and sophomore Carter Patton.

All-everything kicker Tabor Miller returns for his senior year after handling all of the special-teams duties a year ago.

The Bruins have a challenging road ahead, with the usual grind of region opponents, along with 2018 Division II-AA state champ Christ Presbyterian Academy and three-time state champ Knoxville Catholic on the schedule and 10-time state champ Montgomery Bell Academy slated for the Aug. 23 season opener.

“Our schedule is extremely challenging,” Crawford said. “We’ve gotta make sure we stay healthy to get through this season.”

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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