Middle Tennessee Christian School has played freshmen and sophomores the past two years.
That youth may begin to pay off this season as the Cougars attempt to get back on track after going 1-19 over the course of the past two seasons.
So far in the preseason, the Cougars appear to be ready to take a step forward.
But with a roster of less than 30 players, the Cougars must find a way to stay healthy this season.
Junior Justin Winn will lead the Cougars’ offense. He took over at quarterback late last season after being a receiver much of his first two seasons.
“He’s throwing the ball really, really well, throwing it on time,” MTCS coach Brian Stewart said. “He’s able to move in the pocket. We run a lot of zone read stuff. We like to read just about everything we do.
That gives us an option of him pulling it and keeping it.”
The Cougars return receivers Oakley Starling, Peyton Buckner, Austin Melton and Jordan Evans.
“All my receivers have been in this system for two years now,” Stewart said. “We feel very comfortable throwing the football. They know each other. We’ve done real well in our 7-on-7.”
Returning in the backfield is sophomore Tanner Green, who will share carries with freshman Joseph Peck.
“When you have got a guy that like that, that can put his foot in the ground and make somebody miss and then take one to the house, that’s something we haven’t had before,” Stewart said of Peck.
The message for the MTCS defense is simple.
“Can we tackle,” Stewart said. “If we can do those things, we are going to have success.”
MTCS must improve on defense from a year ago to be competitive. The Cougars gave up 37.4 points a game in 2012.
The Cougar defensive front line will feature tackles Franklin Roberts and Bryson Hammrich. The trio of Carl Mathis, Sam Mathis and Nick Merritt will share time at end. Trey Bautista also will play up front. Depth may be an issue up front with the Cougars having less than 10 linemen.
Griffin Harper and Brayden Melton will play inside linebacker as Green and Buckner will play on the outside. Phillip Jones will also play at linebacker.
The secondary will include Austin Melton, Trey Hickey, Jordan Evans, Chaz Chaffin and Peck.
Most of these guys have played 20 games already in high school,” Stewart said. “What we’re worried about is if we can block and tackle and if we can stay healthy.”
Harper, Green, Evans and Peck will return kicks for the Cougars.
Harper will handle the kicking duties.