Word of God Christian Academy football coach Eric Clemmons enjoys working with his school’s 26-man roster for the opportunity it provides him as a teacher on campus.
“The advantage is I can spend more time mentoring,” he said. “I can work with them one-on-one in the classroom and help them socially and physically.”
But don’t get Clemmons wrong. He is excited about the school’s decision to move from 8-man football to 11-man, which started last season.
“We do want a bigger group,” he said. “We had a number of parents inquire about our football program say they would prefer to be involved in an 11-man team. That’s why we made the decision to move back to 11-man. We think it will also help grow the enrollment of the school.
Never miss a local story.
“But for now, I like what we have. These kids are working hard and functioning like a team. I wouldn’t trade them for anybody.”
Two transfer additions to the 2015 roster are senior quarterback Chris-Shaun Young from Southeast Raleigh and senior running back Gyasi Edwards from Jordan.
In addition to their size and versatility, Clemmons likes how they bring 11-man experience with them. Young (6-1, 180) can also play defensive back. Edwards (6-3, 225) has college running back size and speed that the Holy Rams will also utilize at defensive end.
“They understand the 11-man game and they’ve brought leadership to the team,” he said. “They’ve helped pick up the other guys and motivate them.”
Word of God has its biggest game in a short 11-man history in an Oct. 9 game at 4A school member Athens Drive.
“We felt we weren’t challenging the kids playing 8-man, so we wanted to take it up another notch,” he said. “That’s why we set a tough schedule. Athens Drive will be a good test.”
Offense: Balanced spread.
Contributors: WR/DB Atavious Taylor, QB Chris-Shaun Young, FB/LB Christopher Gilliard, RB/DE Gyasi Edwards, WR/DB Jheri Walton, WR/DB Josh Peacock, OL/DE Marc Squirewell, OL/DL Noah Ferguson, RB/DE Rahmel Mullen, FB/LB Tim Montague, OL/DL Xavier Carter.
Strength of team: Clemmons believes having 12 seniors on his roster will help.
Question mark: A lack of depth. The Rams were hoping to have 35 players on their varsity this year, but they numbered only 26 players at the start of fall camp. Clemmons also is concerned about the lack of experience at quarterback behind Young and running back behind Edwards.
Player they will miss: Zachary Jackson was an all-around athlete now playing at Johnson C. Smith University.
The main number: 20 – Athens Drive (about 2,000 students) is approximately 20 times larger than Word of God (less than 100).
The quote: Clemmons: “We have some talent. We just have to bring them together and build some team chemistry.”
Game to watch: Word of God steps up the 4A ranks with a game Oct. 9 at Athens Drive of the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.