FLS Varsity brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school sports.
Three questions: Courtland
Coach: J.C. Hall (11th season)
Last year’s record: 9-5
Last playoff season: 2012
THE COUGARS’ STAPLE WING-T ATTACK WILL BE A KEY TO THEIR SUCCESS AGAIN. WHAT WILL THEIR DEFENSE BRING TO THE TABLE?
With so much emphasis placed on the effectiveness of the Cougars’ wing-T attack, the steady play of their defense often gets overlooked. Last year’s unit played a big part in their drive to the playoffs, holding seven opponents to one touchdown or less. This season, Hall is looking for the same kind of effort from a revamped lineup that includes all-district linebacker Matt Knowles, last season’s leading tackler, and six two-way performers alongside him. The 4-3 scheme will feature an experienced front with 315-pound lineman Charles Roane and an athletic backfield led by playmaker Kyle Talley. “I like what we have on defense,” said Hall. “Matt Knowles is like a fullback on defense and has a real presence out there. We also have two of the best safeties I’ve coached in Kyle Talley and Jabari Allen.”
WHY IS MAKING THE PLAYOFFS CONSISTENTLY SO IMPORTANT FOR COURTLAND, AND WILL THE RUN CONTINUE THIS SEASON?
For Hall and the Cougars, the playoffs serve an important purpose. During those few weeks, many junior varsity players are promoted to the varsity and get valuable training for the following season. That experience usually translates into victories and return trips to the postseason. During the last nine years, Courtland has advanced to regional competition eight times, including last year’s run to the Region I title. The trend could continue this year with quarterback Jabari Allen, running backs George Cheetham and Victor Greene and two-way lineman Darius Thomas assuming starting roles. “The playoffs serve as spring ball the further you go,” said Hall. “For several weeks, it’s a huge opportunity for the JV grads to learn our terminology and understand the intensity of the game from the sidelines. It’s important to keep that rollover going. While other people are in basketball mode, we’re still in football mode.”
WITH JUST FIVE STARTERS BACK ON OFFENSE AND FIVE ON DEFENSE, WILL IT TAKE TIME FOR THIS TEAM TO DEVELOP SOME CHEMISTRY?
The Cougars have a new quarterback, two new running backs and some new faces on defense, but playoff-tested returnees like fullback Anton Jenkins, reliable receiver Kyle Talley and a veteran offensive line should provide a solid foundation while the newcomers gain experience. As this program has demonstrated under Hall in the past, it’s not always important how Courtland starts the season, but how it finishes it. Three years ago, the Cougars lost their first four games and still advanced to the state semifinals. Last year, they lost three of their first four contests and did the same thing again. “We’re excited about this season,” said Hall. “We’ve got basically five weeks to get ready for the Battlefield District. We’d like to start the season fast. That doesn’t always happen, but we always finish strong. That’s our goal.”