After losing their top two play-makers, the Ooltewah Owls have some big shoes to fill, and they have to do it with mostly sophomores.
6A football forces young players to grow up fast, and that’s exactly what head coach Scott Chandler hopes will happen to the Owls.
Said safety Chase Sanders: “We lost a lot of numbers last year, and we’ve had to have a lot of people step up, a lot of sophomores, juniors they really showed a toughness that I really didn’t expect out of these young folks.”
Ooltewah lost both quarterback Kyrell Sanford and running back Sincere Quinn. Both combined for over 3,500 yards last year, leading the Owls to the second round of the playoffs.
Said Chandler: “Any times you lose two guys like that, there’s a lot of offense to have to replace. But luckily for us we have our O line coming back, four of five starters coming back, so we’re going to have to rely a little bit more on the run.”
Said offensive lineman Christian Benoit: “Just have to bring that new brand of physicality up front. We’ve got to bite down and get tough up front in order to move the ball.”
Lane Moore will take over as play-caller, giving the Owls more edge in the air.
Said Benoit: “Kid can throw the ball. He’s got a good arm on him. He’s got that leadership capability to command the offense and stuff like that. Definitely, Lane’s going to be a good replacement. I mean, he’s got some big shoes to fill but I think he’s going to step up and come to the plate and be that man that we need him to be.”
The Owls will have to rely heavily on young players, which means this year’s game plan is a little different.
Said Chandler: “I think this year, we’ve got to stress on coming out faster. Being young and inexperienced, I don’t know if we’ll have the mental toughness to stay in there and comeback like we did, you know. So we have to start fast and hopefully match their scoring as we go.”
Said Sanders: “Our numbers may be down, but we’re still going to make a state championship run. I have no doubt about that.”