The football program at Wake Christian Academy comes with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.
So when the head coaching position became available, the Bulldogs decided to stay within the Wake Christian family and hired Stephen Cochran to lead the Bulldogs into their second season in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association’s Big East Conference.
Cochran, who served as the defensive backs and special teams coach for Wake Christian in 2009, returns after a three year stint as the head coach at Mount Dora Bible High School in Mount Dora, Fla.
“The opportunity came available to come back here, so I decided to make that move and it has been a blessing,” said Cochran.
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The Bulldogs, coming off a 2-10 campaign that included a first-round NCISAA state playoff loss to Arden Christ School, will play this fall with just 21 players on the roster.
“It does come with some obstacles,” said Cochran. “The biggest thing I see is depth. Other schools might cut 30 (players), but you can come over here and play some ball.
“We’ve got some talent to start out with, but the key will be to see if we can stay healthy.”
Fortunately for Cochran, the one area the Bulldogs have the luxury of having a little depth in is at quarterback.
Dubbed the “good ole boys” because of their first names’ similarity to the main characters from “Dukes of Hazzard fame,” senior Beau Barger and junior Luke Ryals both return as experienced signal-callers for a Wake Christian team that will need to rely on its versatility in the option-based offense it will use.
“We’re really in good shape at the quarterback position,” said Cochran, who is impressed not only by the duo’s ability to play the position but also their ability as leaders.
“My leaders like Beau and Luke – they understand exactly what I’m talking about and they’re doing it.”
“There’s really great character in this group; I’m not having to over-coach effort.”
Also providing senior leadership for the Bulldogs are Grayson Floyd, Sam Moss and John Pompliano.
Juniors Jonathan Earnest, John Fuller, Cameron Hinnant and Hunter Wilson all return from last year’s Bulldogs’ squad while Wake Christian also looks for big things from Garner High School transfer C.K. Harris.