Champs look ahead

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Jay Hall returns to the Champions as a bruising fullback and linebacker.
T-G Photos by Chris Siers

It’s a little over five weeks until the 2018 high school football season kicks off and the Cascade Champions are putting in the summer work needed to prepare.

Though it’s only a few days past the TSSAA mandated dead period, Champion coach Jake Tyre likes the attitude and work he’s seen from his team so far.

“It’s been great. The kids are working hard. We’re excited and the kids are excited. I like where we’re at,” he said.

Wendell Singleton came on strong for Cascade in the final games of the 2017 season and will see his share of carries at tailback in 2018.
T-G Photo by Chris Siers

Early work

Teams can’t fully participate in pads and partake in full-contact practice until July 23, but that isn’t stopping the Champions from working on fine tuning the mechanics needed later in the season.

“We’re just in helmets and we’re lifting weights. We’ll go out and practice for a couple of hours. We’re basically working on our timing and a lot of passing stuff right now. We can’t work on a lot of running until we get the pads on,” Tyre said.

Cascade limped through the 2017 season and struggled with injuries throughout the year, but saw a handful of young players find themselves in key leadership roles.

Those players who assumed the leadership roles continue to develop in the off-season.

“Last year, we felt really good. Then it was a string of bad luck. Colby (Melson) went down, then Ethan Calvert went down. Will Carter came in and did a great job, but he wasn’t a quarterback. He came in and did a good job until we got our quarterback back. It’s hard to play without a quarterback,” Tyre said.

“Those juniors last year never really had to play because we graduated 20 seniors the year before. Last year was tough, but they grew up and became leaders. They’re focused and leading everybody.”

Maturity

The maturation of his team is something Tyre says will help carry the team into the season.

“That in itself is something we haven’t had. We’ve got more than one kid who is a vocal leader. Mason James and Chay Chumley are both vocal leaders. I put them in positions where the guys are making them have to do it. It gives them a little ownership of it, where as in years past we haven’t had that. The kids are owning up to what they’re doing. When you own something and you think it’s yours, you play a little harder for it. What we do is predicated on how they lead, and I think they’re doing a great job of that.”

Despite the string of rotten luck, Casacde did see a handful of players emerge on the scene in 2017.

“Last year at the end of the season, Wendell Singleton came on strong. He played tailback for us last year as a sophomore. He put on some good weight and has been running the ball hard. He ran the ball hard in the spring game. Mason James is a senior that’s worked hard. Seth Countess started every game as a freshman last year. He’s a hard worker, a good kid and a great athlete. We’ve got some talent out there. If we can put it all together, I think we’re going to surprise some folks,” he said.

Returnees

Cascade also gets a handful of players back who didn’t play last season as well.

“Jay Hall is back playing fullback. He’s back and Gryphon Lefler is back. Jay Hall has that mental attitude. He’s a tough running back and a tough linebacker. Gryphon Lefler is a tough, strong linebacker and a strong offensive lineman. Those are four positions taken up by guys who are out here working hard.”

Cascade will take part in a 16 team seven on seven workout this weekend at Shelbyville Central, which Tyre says is a good chance to face some competition his squad wouldn’t ordinarily see.

“Seven on sevens are built for the throwing teams. That’s what we’re going to work on. I want to get us out there and see the kids compete. We’re going to Central this week and playing a bunch of bigger schools. If we can get out there and beat a team here and there in seven on seven, it will boost the confidence,” he said.