High School Sports

High school football preview: Cary Christian consistent despite change

By Tom Shanahan



Cary Christian might be the only football program that can change head coaches three times in four years and maintain continuity.

That’s because Dell Cook and Rick Wharton have again flip-flopped roles. Cook, the school’s headmaster, returns in the head coach role after serving as Wharton’s assistant in 2013 and 2014. Cook was previously the head coach from 2008 to 2012, with Wharton his assistant.

“We’ve got familiarity in the program,” Cook said. “When Rick carried on after me, he kept the same system. We’ve been speaking the same language and the guys don’t have a new face to get used to. It’s been a seamless transition.”

Cary Christian is coming off a 3-7 season plagued by injuries. The team’s lack of depth with only 15 players concerns Cook, but he likes how his team has prepared over the summer.

“I’m real excited about the enthusiasm of the guys,” he said. “The last two years have been hard. We’ve been infected by the injury bug and that caused our struggles the last two years. The talent has been there. This year they’ve good about their conditioning over the summer. There is a commitment on their part to be ready.”

The Knights will have an extra week to prepare for their season opener on Aug. 28 against Wilson’s Community Christian.

“We have an open date the first week of the season,” Cook said. “Usually you don’t like that situation, but I think in our case we can use the extra week to get ready and build momentum going into the season.”

Although the low numbers on the varsity concern Cook, one of the 15 is a promising sophomore from Texas. Ethan Peters, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound sophomore, made enough of an impression in summer conditioning he is ticketed to take over at quarterback.

“He’s young, but he’s a good football player,” Cook said. “It’s in him. He has a good football IQ, he makes good decisions and he can run and throw.”

Offense: Spread.

Defense: 3-4.

Contributors: RB/LB Austin Leaming, OL/DL Bryan Hellman, OL/DL Noah Hayes, RB Christian Jacobsen, WR Andrew Cranor, QB Ethan Peters, RB Will Goodall.

Expected team strength: Cook wants to take advantage of his team’s speed and experience in the offensive and defensive lines.

Question mark: With the Knights’ thin depth, they’re hoping to avoid last year’s injury bug.

Players they’ll miss the most: The Knights played two senior quarterbacks as a result of injuries. Nick Smith was the starter until Scott Pechacek took over following Smith’s injury. Pechacek has golf scholarship at Barton College.

The main number: 15 – The low number of varsity players forces the Knights to use more two-way players than they’d prefer.

The quote: Cook: “I’m a teacher at heart and this scratches the itch to teach. I like being out their teaching the game. It’s a life-giving thing for me.”

Game to watch: Cary Christian travels to St. David’s for an Oct. 16 game for what it considers its annual rivalry game.

Last five years

2014: 3-7, first round

2013: 3-7, first round

2012: 7-4, semifinals

2011: 5-5, first round

2010: 9-3, runner-up