Evangelical Christian School coach Tyler Gold is missing a few thousand rushing yards but not enthusiasm in practice these days.
Gold has welcomed back about 30 players and his Sentinels look strong on the offensive and defensive lines after losing leading rusher Chris Ceasar, who transferred to Gateway Charter. In his place, the Sentinels have several talented young athletes at skill positions and, because five starting offensive linemen are returning this fall, there’ll be plenty of experienced people blocking for them.
“There is a lot of excitement in practice now,” said Gold. “These guys had a great time at the team camp over the summer, and it rejuvenated the team.”
Offense: The Sentinels will run a multiple offense with multiple people in the backfield to make up for the loss of Ceasar.
Logan Pearlman is an all-around athletic talent who will start at quarterback.
“Logan is a great athlete, first of all, but he especially has the brains for the game,” Gold said. “He reads the defenses well and is great in the huddle. So he is great at handling the job mentally.”
In the backfield, ECS will have Judson Turley, who will also see time at wide receiver. Daniel Ibarra and Tucker Rogers and Will Spearman, all of whom played at the middle school level a season ago, will also play at running back.
The offensive line will feature Chris Bradley at right tackle, Josiah Wetmore at left guard, Kevin Murphy at center, Andrew McCarty at right guard and Shane Smith at left tackle.
Defense: The defensive line will look similar to the offensive line. Along with Murphy, Bradley, McCarty and Wetmore, Gold will also start senior Max Pennington — who is in his seventh year with the team — at defensive line. Mark Fuchs and Smith will start at linebacker.
Outlook: Gold thinks the lines are undoubtedly the Sentinels’ strength.
“The offensive and defensive lines have the most experience,” he said. “They have played a lot against some very good opponents, so these guys know what to expect.”
Gold is a little concerned about the defensive secondary, where he is still trying new players, and replacing Ceasar in the backfield, where he says “a lot of other guys will have to step it up a little.”
District 2A-7 looks tough with four-time defending champ First Baptist and Southwest Florida Christian Academy and the Community School of Naples expected to be good again. The Sentinels will open the season with Canterbury, LaBelle and Gateway Charter before beginning 2A-7 play at home against First Baptist on Sept. 16. The Sentinels’ game with the Lions is the first of six straight district games.
2015 record: 3-7
Aug. 26 — Canterbury, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 — at LaBelle, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — Gateway Charter, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — First Baptist, 7 p.m.
Sept, 23 — BYE’
Sept. 30 — Moore Haven, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — at St. John Neumann, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Community School, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — at SFCA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — Marco Island, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 — at Seffner Christian, 7 p.m.