Q. How would you characterize this year’s team?
A. We’ve got some experience coming back. I’m worried about our depth after moving from 3A to 4A.
Q. What will be the keys to your success?
A. We have to develop depth early. We’re the smallest 4A school in TN. We will be playing much larger schools with teams that have more players and more depth.
Q. Who will be your key leaders on the team?
A. Returning All-Region Lorenzo Stewart (Sr., LB), All-Region Alonzo Russell (Jr., QB/DB), Kashawn Cosey (Sr., RB/DB), All-Region Will Mercer (Sr., OL/DL), Braxton Moffett (Sr., TE/LB), Joey Boles (Jr., OL/DL), and Eric Bennett (Sr., QB/DB).
Q. What are your biggest reasons for optimism?
A. It’s a new year. I’ve had a year with these kids now. More familiarity, so the learning curve isn’t so steep.
Q. What will keep you up at night?
A. Lack of depth. We’re an injury or two away from bad times. We’ve got a pretty good first group of kids, but after that we drop off significantly. We need to get some of the younger kids ready to play.
Q. Any lessons learned from last year?
A. In my first year at East Ridge last year, I learned what kinds of kids and talent we have and adjusted our schemes to fit the kids. The first year at a program is more exploratory. We learned about the MO and personality of the team, what we can do well, and what we don’t do well. Last year we were searching for an identity.
Q. How would you characterize your team’s speed?
A. We’re fortunate to be pretty deep at the skill positions. I’m worried about depth up front with the linemen. O-Line and D-Line need depth. We’re as fast as anybody in town, but we’re not very big.
We’ve got a pretty tough schedule. We picked up Stone Memorial, Signal Mountain, and Polk County, and Polk County is always very tough. Brainerd is a neighborhood rivalry. That game’s a toss-up. We’ve got a tough schedule from bottom to top. We have to prepare our kids the best we can, and hope for the best on the field.
Photos by Andy Mitchell