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Three questions: Fredericksburg Christian

FREDERICKSBURG CHRISTIAN EAGLES

Coach: Tim Coleman (Fifth year)

Last year’s record: 9-2 (lost in VISAA Division III State Final)

Last playoff season: 2012

HOW WILL FCS REPLACE ALL THE KEY PLAYERS WHO GRADUATED AFTER THE 2012 SEASON?

In just its fourth year of football, Fredericksburg Christian played for the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association’s Division III championship in 2012, but it fell to Virginia Episcopal School in the championship game. The Eagles compiled an 18-3 record over the last two years, led by standout players like four-year starting quarterback Bret Barham and 2012 D-III All-State players A.J. Addision (OL), Hunter Griffis (RB), Cody Goode (LB), Aaron Alexander (DB/punt returned), and Jared Steigerwald (punter). Those players have all graduated, however. The Eagles return just three starters from last year—Jamie Mason, who started on offense and defense, and linemen Ryan Prokrop and Dan White—and fifth-year FCS head coach Tim Coleman said those three players, along with others, will have to step up for the program to pick up where it left off last season.

“When you had a group of kids like that, we had 12 seniors, and all 12 of them were key contributing players … I don’t know that you can really replace them as much as you try to fill in their positions and just work with the players that you’ve got.”

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO GET BACK TO THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR?

The Eagles play another challenging schedule this season with two VISAA Division I opponents, one from Division II, two from Division III and two from Division IV, as well as one other independent school. Finding tough opponents to play has been a priority for the Eagles to help attract top-shelf talent and to challenge its players to play at a higher level. After rolling over most of its opponents the past two years, this year may be different for FCS depending on how quickly the abundance of new players can step into starting roles, and if the other players can develop and get more playing time to help alleviate the potential issue of too much playing time for its starters. Success during in the early season schedule could be just the boost FCS needs as the season goes on.

“We’re going to really have our work cut out for us. Is it something that we could obtain and reach? The schedule could be in our favor a little bit with the first couple games that we have that are conference games, but with teams that we can compete with,” Coleman said. “You just have to hope that you’re competing, and if you’re able to be successful and win those types of games that the kids get some confidence in what they’re doing. Of course that can be big too in the course of a football season.”

WITH A LOT OF COMFORTABLE WINS LAST SEASON, YOU WERE ABLE TO SUBSTITUTE PLAYERS PRETTY FREELY. HOW IMPORTANT COULD THAT BE THIS YEAR?

FCS won seven games by 20-plus points in 2012, which allowed the coaching staff to get many of its back-up players a lot of experience with the team’s wing-T offense, as well as in its defensive scheme. While the Eagles graduated most of their starters, they do have several of those role players back, which could be helpful once they develop into their starting jobs. Both lines have the potential to be strong points for FCS, with experienced starters like Prokop and White back and some decent size on the roster.

“We got a lot of kids a lot of playing time last year and that’s huge for the experience factor; and we’ve got a lot of linemen with experience. Now they weren’t necessarily starters, but they got a lot of playing time,” said Coleman, who won three public school state championships (Group AA, Division 4) as the head coach at Spotsylvania in the 90s and also coached at Group AAA Colonial Forge. “We’re hoping that that’s going to play a key factor in us getting off to a good start if we can this year.”

–Tom Leiss

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