By DAVID GRAVELY, SWT Sports Editor
Questions about who goes where in the depth chart remain, but Pulaski County will continue to look for the answers when they pack the bus and head to Montgomery County Friday to take on the Christiansburg Blue Demons in the regular season opener.
Coach Stephen James had hoped to have a few more pieces in place at this point, but still feels good about his team.
“We’re going through some growing pains right now,” said Coach James on Tuesday. “Any time you have a change in leadership or philosophy for your team that’s going to happen. We’re all still learning each others ways, and we’re all still working on figuring out who is going to do the best job for us at each position. It’s a work in progress, but they are getting it a little more each day.”
The Blue Demons will be coming into after finishing 7-4 last season. They fell in the first round of the playoffs to William Byrd, 28-10. Head Coach Tim Crom
er is entering his thirteenth season as the leader of the Blue Demons.
Christiansburg lost 22 players to graduation, but will return several key players including second year quarterback senior Charlie Jackson.
Offensively, fans can expect to see Christiansburg run their normal jet-sweep offense that uses misdirection and speed to gain the advantage, along with a solid passing game. The front line for Christiansburg will see senior Andrew Wikle (6’1″, 184) at center, senior Grant Griffith (5’9″, 196) and junior Noah Franklin (6’2″, 239) at guards, and senior Brodyn Huddleston (5’11″, 234) and junior Tyrique Lowery (5’7″, 231) at the tackles. The tight-end will be junior C.J. Napper (6’1″, 286). The wing-backs will be seniors Simeon Brown (5’9″, 177) and Drew Dunn (5’11″, 183). The tail-back will be junior Cole Christian (5’10″, 188). The wide receivers will be seniors Trenton Harding (6’1″, 166) and Asher Vaughn (5’10″, 161).
Defensiviely, the Blue Demons will show a 4-4 front. Expect to see Franklin, Huddleston, and senior Dylan Scott (5’11″, 296) all in action on the front line. The defensive-ends should be Napper and Nowlin. The inside linebackers should be Griffith and sophomore Alec Henderson (6’1″, 187). The outside linebackers should be Dunn and senior Aaron Cridlin (5’10″, 172). The cornerbacks will be Brown and Jackson, and the safety will be junior Mitchell Walters (5’10″, 158).
The Cougars hold the lead in the series between the two teams, with nine wins against six losses. The Blue Demons won the matchup last year by a score of 30-14. Pulaski County won the first six games of the series in dominating fashion, but since then it has been a series of two and three game streaks for each team.
“They’re a solid team,” said Coach James. “They have a good bit of speed and they get after it. Their quarterback, tailback and receivers are all very good. We’ll have to read our keys well to stop them.”
The Cougars will take the field with the quarterback question still up in the air. Senior Jesse Draper (5’11″, 175) and sophomore Bryant Grubb (5’11″, 165) will likely both see action, with junior Landen Lawson (6′, 175) concentrating on other duties as he nurses a slight injury. The running back spot will see a combination of seniors Marcus Payne (5’10″, 171) and Cody Semones (5’3″, 140), along with sophomore Hunter Thomas (5’10″, 170). The H-backs will be a rotation of seniors Jake Callahan (5’10″, 180) and Austin Harless (6’1″, 210) along with junior Tyler Sechrist (5’11″, 205) and sophomore Jeffery McDonald (6’2″, 215). The tight-end will also see a rotation of Harless and Sechrist. The front line will see senior Adam Richardson (5’11″, 205) at center, senior Tanner Dotson (5’10″, 226) and junior Noah Patterson (6′, 230) at the guards, and juniors Sam Grissom 5’11″, 218) and Bradley Church (6’4″, 190) at the tackles. The wide receivers will be senior Malik Eaves (5’11″, 142) and junior Elliott Brewster (6’2″, 185).
On defense the Cougars will also rotate several players in the attempt to keep fresh legs in the game. Across the front expect to see Patterson, Grissom and Dotson, with senior Brandon Estep (6’5″, 299), sophomore Caleb Bishop (6’1″, 240) and senior Thomas Davis (6’1″, 208) getting time in the rotation. The defensive-ends will be Church and senior Tyler Gravely (5’11″, 185), with Sechrist and McDonald also rotating in at times. The linebackers will see Harless and Callahan, along with junior Chase Huff (5’11″, 185) and senior JP Croteau (5’11″, 185). The corners will be Eaves and Payne, with Grubb, Thomas, and Semones backing them up. The safeties will be Brewster and a combination of Lawson, Draper, and Grubb.
The kicker and punter will be senior Shane Chrisley (5’11″, 205), the holder will be senior Tyler Harrison (6′, 170), and the long snapper will be Draper.
“We’ve been taking baby-steps up until now,” said Coach James. “It’s time to stand up and see who’s going to play some football. I expect us to go out and be better this week than we were last week. We need to find some early success not only in this game, but in the season to build momentum. We need to keep the chains moving when we’re on offense, and we need to read our keys and hit hard and make good tackles on defense. It’s time to see who wants to play football.”
Kickoff at Christiansburg High School is set for 7 p.m. The junior varsity teams will meet tonight at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium with a 6 p.m. start time.