Coming into his head-coaching debut, Hendersonville’s Eric Gash has cause for concern.
A couple actually.
The Bearcats have been ravaged by injuries at quarterback – incumbent starter Cole Cleary (finger) and backup Michael Schmidt (concussion) are both doubtful for Friday’s football game at Asheville High.
Former All-Western Highlands Conference safety/wide receiver Bradley Schmidt (104 tackles, three interceptions) is out six to eight weeks with a fractured hip.
And then there are the Cougars themselves, who are the preseason favorite in the Mountain Athletic Conference and ranked in the top-10 of just about every preseason 3-A state poll.
“They’re loaded,” Gash said.
“I put the film on and I thought I was looking at the Chicago Bears. They’re loaded up front and their backs are strong. It’s going to be all we can do to just keep them from getting 18 yards a clip. But we’re going to put our best foot forward, put our 11 best guys out there on both sides of the ball and see what happens.”
Cleary passed for 1,559 yards and ran for 1,130 more with 26 combined touchdowns in 2013. He has scholarship offers from Wingate and Limestone.
Without Cleary, the Bearcats will likely turn to freshman Alex Williford or junior Tyler Landrum. But a final decision has not been made on who will start, Gash added.
Asheville won last year’s game in Hendersonville, 28-14.
The Bearcats do have their share of playmakers back this season.
Defensive lineman Adam Rice is a senior who made 115 tackles and two sacks in 2013. Fellow seniors Evan Gibbs (65) and Kobey Rudisill (46) combined for more than 110 tackles.
Junior Terrold Gary (477 yards, five touchdowns) is expected to get most of the carries at running back.