Meridian Star

October 3, 2013

New additions could be key for Calvary

Sarah Moomaw
The Meridian Star

—     Mid-season transfers are rare, but Calvary Christian has acquired three much needed players to help turn around the season.

    Head coach Kirby Newell wants to be clear – he didn't go looking, they came to him.

    “We have been truly blessed,” Newell said. “We've gone from six players to 16. … I did no recruiting. They all came here by word of mouth.”

    The Cougars are 1-4 to start the season, but at least they have a football team. Over the summer, Newell and school administrators held a meeting to decide if they could support the sport this season. At that time, only six players for the 8-man team had committed to play/

    Newell said that since the 2009 state championship, he's seen a drop in players as the school's enrollment has also fallen. His best guess was to blame the economy.

    “We haven't had any transfers like this in the six years that I've been here,” Newell said. “Being a private school, the last few years with the economy being like it is, I think it's hurt our enrollment … word is getting out that kid here can get a good education.”

    Two of the three transfers are seniors and Newell said they are strictly focused on graduation. Both left Meridian High School for Calvary's curriculum, but also the chance to play football.

    Senior wide receiver Aljaoen Kennedy is going to beef up both sides of the ball. Michael Bradley, also from Meridian, is to football for the first time since junior high to help out at running back.

    The third is a piece without a quick expiration date. Sophomore Michael Sullivan transferred from Southeast Lauderdale as a linemen, and will look to make a difference at 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds for the next three years.

    “We're going to be huge on the line now,” Newell said. “We're going to line up three guys on our offensive line 315, 295, 250.”

    The three new additions have bumped the roster to 16 players, but also are filling in weak spots. Newell said he had been playing really young guys on the outside and teams knew it.

    “I think we have them in the right spot, people were beating us on the outside, absolutely killing us on the outside, so we some of these kids outside to put up some better coverage,” he said. “these are not new positions... it makes us multidimensional now.”

    Additionally, he said they're defense was the cause of most of their losses. Newell hopes that is all behind them as they host Friendship Christian on Friday in one last non-district game.

    “We're looking at this as the start of a second season,” he said. “We're very optimistic about the second part of our season … we think we got a good chance here to make a playoff run.”