Chestatee’s season will all depend on how it finishes, not how it starts. With as many young players as War Eagles coach Stan Luttrell will be forced to put on the field, he’s glad to have some time for those freshmen and sophomores to get some playing time before the subregion schedule opens on Oct. 1 against North Hall at War Eagles Stadium.
“We don’t have a lot of choice but to play some young guys,” Luttrell said. “We have a good group of juniors, and some very talented sophomores and freshmen.”
At the top of the senior class is a two-way player at quarterback, Scott Chewning, and a veteran defensive line with plenty of Friday-night experience.
The War Eagles hope to finish strong and erase the memory of the past two seasons, when they lost the final four games of the season, ending any shot at the playoffs.
The difference this season is a new Region 8A-AAA and the addition of tough programs in Franklin County and Stephens County. Luttrell knows it will be a battle all season.
“The good thing for us is we open right off with a bye week and don’t start playing in the subregion until the second half of the season,” Luttrell said. “The key for us is we just have to
The War Eagles are quite comfortable at the quarterback position with the return Chewning. Even though Chestatee’s offense isn’t based on throwing the ball extensively out of a split-back attack, Chewning is a “hard-nosed player” and a natural leader, according to Luttrell.
In the backfield, Luttrell is excited about the development of junior Montrai Tate. He’s going to get the bulk of the carries, and could be primed to follow in the line of other 1,000-yard running backs to come out of Chestatee, such as JoJo Sweet and Ben Souther.
Kelly Arthur, Quan Clark and Jay Lyles will also get some touches.
Even though Chestatee has traditionally focused on the run, the War Eagles have an experienced group of wide receivers with Brice Beck, Alex Moore and Pearce Gruenenfelder.
On the offensive line, starters include Tim Sullens, Austin Edmonds, Johnathan West, Ryan Roberts and Matt Hammonds.
Though a young team as a whole, Luttrell is really pleased with his defensive line. Tyler Terry is a three-year starter and can play at nose tackle or defensive end. Austin English has been moved over to defensive end from his former position on the offensive line. Sophomore Johious Cantrell (6-0, 307) will also get into the mix on the defensive front, along with Garrett Bennett and Austin Kinsey.
At linebacker, Chestatee will start a freshman, Kalil Cantrell (5-10, 235), who Luttrell says has tremendous potential. Along with Cantrell at linebacker, the War Eagles return Nathanael Peck, and senior Daniel Moreno, a first-year starter.
Sophomores Kyle Perry and Baker McCormack will also get on the field at linebacker.
In the secondary, Chewning starts at safety and Beck at cornerback.
Chewning is punting for Chestatee and Moreno will handle kicking duties. Arthur will handle kickoff and punt return duties.
Tate will also be in on punt returns, and Clark on kickoff returns.
Chestatee is looking to break its three-year playoff absence this year.
For Chestatee to be in the mix for the playoffs when Week 10 rolls around, they’ll have to blend the veteran experience and new starters together by the time the subregion portion of the schedule hits.
Playing against Franklin County and Stephens County will be the great unknown in Region 8-AAA until they actually meet on the field.