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Grace Christian preps for football season
by E. Marcel Pourtout
mpourtout@neighbornewspapers.com
July 16, 2014 02:03 PM | 1281 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>Grace Christian School senior Brock Crabtree works out with the team during summer training last Thursday.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
Grace Christian School senior Brock Crabtree works out with the team during summer training last Thursday.
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The Grace Christian Academy football team had a difficult start to its 2013 campaign, losing its first six contests. However, the Eagles’ fortunes turned positive when the program welcomed a new head coach, Ladaris Vann, late in the season and won their final two games over Freedom Academy and North Georgia.

“We became a team towards the end of last season,” said Vann. “We had a bunch of individual players that started to gel together and win games.”

Vann has extensive football experience, starting with a four-year career as a wide receiver for the University of Cincinnati from 1999 to 2002 and signing a professional contract with the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. He trained several of the Grace Christian players at his gym in Powder Springs before accepting the head coaching spot.

“Last year we had a lack of players and had to get them in shape during the season,” said Vann. “This offseason, we’re trying to get the kids into a different culture and become dedicated to the sport of football by practicing the craft.”

The Eagles will benefit this season from a larger roster of 23 players throughout the summer. Last season, they only had 16 players on the team.

The top returning players include rising senior quarterback Malachi Parker and rising junior running back Josh Smoak, who Vann noted gives maximum effort on the field. Bailey Lee and Michah Young will provide stability on the offensive line while newcomer Brock Crabtree will be one of the more versatile players for the Eagles, seeing time at wide receiver, corner back and quarterback this season.

“Right now, we’re teaching the players the game because this is the first time some of them have played football,” Vann said. “We’re in the classroom going through the playbook thoroughly.”

The Eagles, who compete in the Glory for Christ high school football league, open the season on Aug. 22 against Hearts Academy.

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