JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – Crumbs. That’s what Cougar football fans exist on in the off season. Sure the banquet is nice, and spring practice helps a little, but it’s been a long almost 10 months of near Cougar football starvation. It’ll be one more month before fans can feast on a night of Cougar football when Cocke County comes to town to help kick-off Campbell’s 45th football season.
Yesterday signaled the start of pre-season practice commonly called Acclamation Week. It is two days of helmets and then three days of helmets and shoulder pads. It’s a way to wade into full pads starting next Monday. Ninth year Campbell County Head Coach Justin Price said, “This week is supposed to allow players to get adjusted to practicing in the heat and humidity, but the weather is turning dry and not so hot.”
Morning practices generally afford cooler temperatures which is why they start at 8 am and run a couple of hours sometimes two and a half hours. Price and his staff work hard to make practices as efficient as they can.
TOP PHOTOS: Playoff banners line the wall of the Cougar locker room. CCHS missed the playoffs for the first time last season after making it to the post season a school record five-straight times from 2013 through 2017.
Coach Justin Price said this year’s team is a little bit older in spots but not very experienced. The roster is only made up of 10 seniors prompting the Cougars to rely on juniors and sophomores. He said, “We have a lot of players who will play one way in the secondary and at wide receiver.”
“The quarterbacks are coming along. It’s neck and neck and wide open,” said Price. He’s talking about junior Joseph Paul, six-feet, 190 pounds, and sophomore Hunter White, six-feet, 185 pounds. Each has a handful of varsity snaps under their belts.
“Both quarterbacks do things well, and they work hard,” Price adds. He goes on to say that it could be a two-quarterback system or one starter. He said, “It’ll come down to the quarterback who gives us the best chance to win.”
One certain strength is Price’s experienced wide receiver corp. He hopes that strength will also help bring his young quarterbacks along. Senior Devlin Dukes, after his breakout game last season at Oak Ridge, leads the three most experienced receivers that include juniors Cahron Williams, a two way starter, and Makyle Shepard. Senior Anthony Gaylor had a good 7-on-7 season, sophomores Aaron Ellison started some as a freshman and Gavin Newman had a good off season, added Price.
C.J.Allen will see triple duty. The very competitive sophomore will be counted upon to carry much of the load when it comes to the running game. “He ran the ball very well in the spring,” the coach stated. Price notes that Number 22 will play safety on the other side of the ball plus he’ll handle the punting duties.
Price said, “We only have one returning starter on the offensive line, Chaz Duverney. We feel like we have a very athletic line this year that is quick and explosive. This will help in our screen game and pulling.” Some of the Cougars who are battling for spots are Ben Conrad, Calob Osborne, Brennon Byrge, Carson Meade, Josh Heatherly, and several others.
“It’s been huge having some of the soccer players come out for football. The soccer program has been so good to work with us,” said Price. Juniors Thomas Johnson and Jeremy Weinberg are the Cougars two kickers who will handle the placement work while Allen punts.
“Our wide receivers will handle most of the returning. Makyle and Cahron are dynamic returners.,” Price exclaimed.
Coach Justin Price is excited about his front seven on defense which consists of mostly seniors. “We’re led upfront by senior and two-time All-Region performer Javen McCulley. His name comes up now in the same conversation as such past greats like Mike Rhoades,” said the head coach. At five-feet eleven and 275 pounds, McCulley is very explosive off the ball and even started one game as a freshman. Chaz Duverney will play two-ways for the Orange and Blue. Damon Seiber has worked hard in the off season to get quicker and is quicker. Both are seniors.
At outside linebacker, Price has four seniors who will contribute; David Wiseman, Michael Brown, Cobey Raines and first-year player Lawson Shoun. They all bring something a little different. “We’ll have a mixture of young guys in the secondary, and like with the wide receivers, our defensive backfield has some depth,” said Price.
Homecoming is September 13 when Seymour visits while Senior Night is the Fulton game on October 18.
The Cougars open their 2019 season at home against the Cocke County Fighting Cocks, out of Newport, on Friday, Aug. 23. Kickoff is 7:30 pm with live radio, television and internet coverage over the WLAF – B & M Tires Sports Network beginning at 7 pm. Les Martin, the Voice of the Cougars, and Brent Allen bring you the action. Martin returns for his ninth season behind the mic. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/23/2019-6AM)