“We’re not really focused on a repeat,” ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said. “We’re just focused on getting better and being the best 2013 team we can be. We talk about winning the day, being great today and continuing to improve. Just worry about today because that is enough to worry about. That is the constant message here.”
Surprisingly, last season the conversation wasn’t about winning a title either.
“Last year, our goal starting off the season wasn’t to win a state championship and it’s not this year,” Gess said. “It was just go out there and be our best every single day and game, and to improve throughout the course of the season. Then, hopefully at the end of the season you are right there in the thick of it.”
As a result, the Chargers convincingly won their final 13 games and captured the program’s first GHSA title.
ELCA has a strong chance of ending this season in similar fashion with seven players coming back on an offense led by quarterback Dalton Etheridge, Davis Carrandi, Lane Timpson and Cameron Stewart, and six on a defense led by Andrew Williams, Bryson Durden and Sam Shockley.
“Andrew’s unbelievable,” Gess said. “He’s the real deal. He’s light years better at this point than he was last year. He might be one of the best defensive ends in the country. He’s a college football player on the high school football field right now.”
The Chargers’ region opponent Strong Rock Christian is hoping to earn better results in league play. Last season, the Patriots won four games overall but just one against region competition.
“I think we play in the most competitive single A region,” Strong Rock coach Mark Miller said. “When we hit the region, it’s a pretty tough schedule for us.”
Miller has seven players coming back on each side of the ball and anticipates having a little more success since the players have a firmer grasp of the playbook.
Meanwhile, the Community Christian School Knights are migrating from the ICSGA to Class AA of the GISA.
“We’ve been exploring this for a little while,” Community Christian coach Adam Collins said. “Our goal is we want to continue moving forward.”
After a 9-2 season in the ICSGA last year, the New Creation Christian Crusaders will have four starters returning on offense as well as defense.
“This is going to be an interesting year,” New Creation Christian coach Jonathan Brown said.
The Crusaders will have a new quarterback in senior Mitchel Daniel, and Billy Robbins, Shun Hannah and Miles Vaughn will compete for the vacant running back position.
Senior linebacker Derrick Lynch is expected to lead the defense.
Over at Creekside Christian Academy, the Cougars are trying to bounce back from a 2-7 season. Head coach Jeremy Blackstock lost five seniors from that team.