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FOOTBALL IN HALL 2019: Chestatee brings back dynamic quarterback to lead run in challenging Region 7-4A
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Chestatee's Christian Charles celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during a game between Chestatee and East Hall at War Eagle Stadium on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

Despite struggling to get into the win column in 2018, the Chestatee football team has plenty to be excited about in head coach Shaun Conley’s fourth season with the program. For one, the War Eagles boast one of the area’s most electric athletes in quarterback Christian Charles, fresh off a season in which he averaged more than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing per game. 

Chestatee also boasts an experienced group of players that have operated under the same head coach their entire high school careers and should not be lacking for comfortability in Conley’s offensive and defensive systems. 

After earning just one win a season ago, Conley is confident in his team’s chances of making a jump in 2019. 

“They’re hungry, they’re humble and I think they’re going to be really fun to watch,” he said. “We’re all excited. The coaching staff and the players are really excited to get this thing started.”

5 things to watch

Big senior class

Friday night experience should be one of Chestatee’s biggest strengths this season. 

This year’s group of seniors is the largest Conley has had since joining the War Eagles. It’s also the first class to have played under Conley for their entire high school careers. Conley will be looking to the older players on the team to keep the rest of the group poised throughout the season.

“With this large group (of seniors), we have some returning game time experience, especially in the skill positions,” Conley said. “We lost some key guys up front, but we’re really dependent on those returning skill players, and this large senior group to kind of carry us through some times when we have to grow those young offensive linemen up.”

Charles in charge

As a sophomore, Charles rushed for 1,446 yards and 19 touchdowns to go along with 1,781 yards passing and eight more touchdowns. Charles is a dual-threat quarterback who is constantly a big play waiting to happen. 

Conley said Charles’ multifaceted skill set prevents opposing teams from focusing on one part of his game, leaving something open on every play. Look for Charles to take advantage of that this season as he comes into his own as a signal caller.

“We just try to basically react off of what the defense does, and having a running quarterback, a mobile quarterback, helps,” Conley said. “That’s another guy that they’ve got to account for. If they’ve got just a pure passer, then they know they can drop more and bring more and stuff like that. But with the dual-threat quarterback, it does help you offensively, play calling, extending the play and stuff like that.”

Focus on defense

Defensive struggles were Chestatee’s biggest hindrance in 2018, as the War Eagles gave up more than 40 points in every game. Conley and the rest of the teams coaching staff has spent much of the offseason making sure that doesn’t happen this year. 

Conley said much of last season’s defensive woes were due to a brand new defensive system implemented prior to the start of the year. The team has now spent a full year learning that system, and Conley expects that experience to translate to better defensive performance.

“We do feel like that we’ve got some folks in the right places, and we expect huge improvements out of our defense this year, if for no other reason than they’re going to be in the same system and they’re more comfortable with what we’re doing,” he said.

Filling in the offensive line

Some of Chestatee’s biggest departures from last season were along the offensive line, so expect to see some new faces blocking for the War Eagles offense in 2019. 

Conley said he’s expecting several members of the position group to rise up and fill in the gaps left by graduated players, though he was hesitant to name anyone specific that’s stood out as a definite contributor. Look for the War Eagles to try out a few different combinations of players at offensive line early in the year while the team searches for a unit that gels together.

“We lost some guys up front that we’ve got to find somebody to fill those spots,” Conley said. “As far as a player, I don’t know that we lost a player, but just a combination of ones that we lost. We lost some at key positions that we need to find a solution for.”

Starting off strong

Chestatee begins the season against North Hall, the school district it pulled students from when it opened in 2002. 

“There’s nothing better than playing against a rival,” Charles said. 

The Trojans won last year’s meeting between the teams at North Hall by more than 50 points, but with this season’s rematch being played on Chestatee’s own field, the War Eagles are going to be more motivated than ever to start the nonregion schedule off on a high note. 

“We’re looking to come out with a big bang to the year,” Chestatee wide receiver Caleb Carter said.

Schedule

Friday NORTH HALL

Aug. 30 DAWSON COUNTY

Sept. 13 at East Hall

Sept. 20 FANNIN COUNTY

Sept. 27 at Denmark

Oct. 4 at Marist*

Oct. 11 FLOWERY BRANCH*

Oct. 25 at Blessed Trinity*

Nov. 1 WHITE COUNTY*

Nov. 8 WEST HALL*

*region games

Roster

2. Luke Bornhorst Jr.

3. Christian Charles Jr.

5. Matthew Jarrard Sr.

6. Cole Davidenko So.

7. Bryant Eddy Sr.

8. Matthew Smith Sr.

10. Hayden Gowin So.

11. Wyatt Goode So.

12. Drew Knickel So.

13. Ethan Corley Jr.

14. Elijah Pruitt Fr.

15. Seth Pressley Sr.

16. Jasper Graham So.

17. Christian Jarrard Fr.

18. Brice Dickson So.

19. Tyler Humphries Fr.

21. Alex Zamora Fr.

22. Payton Warren Jr.

24. Evan Burgess Jr.

25. Robbie James Sr.

26. Caleb Carter Sr.

27. Dakota George Fr.

29. Braedon Bennett Fr.

33. Dangelo Pruitt So.

38. Anakin Rowland So.

40. Jeronimo Marin So.

42. Ethan Clark Fr.

43. Noe Aerllano 43

45. Hunter Chambers Sr.

46. Chandler Tucker Sr.

50. Cooper Barrett So.

51. Ivan Mendoza So. 

52. Wil Oneal Fr.

53. Seth Sertain Sr.

56. Grant Siegfried Jr.

57. Harrison Mitchell So.

58. Walker Whitmire So.

59. Hayden Britton So.

60. Angel Lugo Sr.

62. Jackson Farris Sr.

65. David Woodard Sr.

66. Steven Martin Sr.

67. Luis Jordan Fr.

68. Griffin Hammond Fr.

70. Abisai Leon Sr. 

71. Daniel Zaleta Fr.

72. Erick Briseno Sr.

73. Victor Rosas Jr. 

74. Triston Minor Fr.

75. Gael Rodriguez So.

76. Levi Stowers So. 

77. Payton Rowe Fr. 

78. Jacob Gipson Sr. 

79. Jesus Aguillares Sr. 

82. Erick Penado Jr. 

Regional events