Greg Patterson is putting 23 players through summer practices heading into his third season as the Eagles’ head coach.
Patterson’s squad has senior leadership. Quarterback Andrew Rhodes and receiver Austin Roach return from last year’s 5-5 squad. Senior linemen Ben Mercer and Jacob Self also return.
While they have some experience, the Eagles will be extremely young at other positions. Patterson expects at least two freshmen to start this season.
“We’ll have a senior with plenty of experience at one spot and a freshman lined up right beside him,” Patterson said. “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill. We will be young at spots. We will probably start two freshmen on the line.”
Sumiton Christian graduated eight seniors from last year’s squad.
The bulk of this year's team is made up of seniors, juniors and freshmen. Patterson said there is just one sophomore on the team.
Before the team even started practice this week they were three players short. The Eagles lost senior receiver/safety Braxton Clifton for the season to injury and also had players quit and transfer.
“On one hand, we have a chance to do well and make the playoffs,” Patterson said. “On the other hand, one injury for us could mean life or death.”
Sumiton Christian will have a new defensive coordinator this season. The Eagles have picked up Zac Holmes from Brindlee Mountain, a Class 3A school in Marshall County.
“We’ve got a new defensive coordinator so right now we are focused on getting up to speed,” Patterson said.
Sumiton Christian came within one win of the playoffs last season. The team finished in a three-way tie for the fourth playoff spot. A year after finishing 0-10, the team started 3-0 before losing five of its last seven games.