Meridian Star

Sports

June 21, 2014

Calvary needing numbers

MERIDIAN — The Calvary Christian High School football program has been through the highs and lows over the last few years in the MAIS football eight-man football division.

A once proud program, the Cougars notched back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009 under coach Kerby Newell, with those squads were led by quarterback Kirby Koch, who threw for 5,354 yards and 85 touchdowns combined in those two seasons.

But CCHS fell on hard times from 2010-2012, accumulating just an 8-22 record over that span.

Calvary managed to rebound last season and reached the playoffs with a 4-6 regular-season record before being ousted by Franklin Academy, 42-14.

Yet the playoff appearance is a far cry from what the program produced just a few seasons prior.

The source of the problem? A lack of numbers.

The Cougars, who fielded teams in 2008 and 2009 with up to 45 players, saw its roster total dwindle to just nine players at the beginning of last year.

“When your enrollment is around 100 in grades K-12, it cuts down on how many athletes will be available in the program,” Newell said. “We came close last year to not playing. We had a team meeting the first day of school to discuss whether or not to play, but we decided to.”

Newell now has the difficult task of attempting to build up a once championship-caliber program, all while having to work under roster limitations.

“I don’t know who’s going to play where as of right now,” Newell said. “I have no idea who is going to play quarterback.”

Additionally, Newell is uncertain of who will play the quarterback role of the defense as the team’s Mike linebacker.

“You need a (great player) at middle linebacker,” Newell said. “He’s got to be able to go sideline-to-sideline, and we’re still looking for that player.”

Yet there are two things that Newell is certain of: The Cougars will utilize its 6-foot-3, 250-pound tight end Jacob Crum and look to take full advantage of its size on the line.

“He never played football in his life before last year,” Newell said of Crum. “Teams have been calling and asking about him. He’s a big kid that can run and has a great set of hands. We just have to figure out some way to get him the ball.”

What the Cougars lack out-wide in speed, they make up for in strength and ability on the interior.

“We have some bigger and faster linemen,” senior center Bo Miller said. “So it’s going to be great to be able to fire off the ball more and attack the opponent.”

Added Newell “We’re going to be big. We’re going to be more of a north-and-south- type team.”

With just a dozen players on the current roster, offseason workouts will prove vital to the success of the Cougars this fall.

“You have to be in shape,” Newell said. “I’ll worry about X’s and O’s later. I have to make sure that the guys that I have are in shape right now.”

As a senior, Miller has taken the responsibility upon himself to ensure that each member on the squad is doing their job day-in and day-out.

“We’ve had some good seniors in the past, and I’ve learned a great deal from them,” Miller said. “I try to make sure people are getting to practice and making sure everyone is getting properly prepared for when the season starts.”

With less players on the field and more ground to cover, maintaining a roster of players with top conditioning is instrumental to a winning side.

“It’s pretty rough,” Miller said. “You have to get yourself in shape throughout the summer and the preseason. If you work hard during the summer, once the season comes around, it’s not as difficult as you would think. But you just have to push through it.”

The Cougars are hoping the momentum they built toward the end of the 2013 season will carry over into the 2014 campaign.

“I was just happy we were winning,” Miller said. “We had some struggles in the past few years. We hit a rough patch there for a little while.

“This is my senior year, and I feel like we are going to have a good season. We’re working hard, hitting the weight room and running, and I’m just ready for the season to get started.”

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