PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Run game still priority for Chargers
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Friday, August 23, 2019
Ayden-Grifton head coach Paul Cornwell has built his 15-year legacy with the Chargers around an airtight defense and a physical, punishing ground game. In 2019, he hopes to shake things up, while keeping the game plan the same.
It’s no surprise that the historic football program emulates it’s community, full of hard working and dependable people. In 2019 Cornwell and the rest of his team will return to a hard-nosed style of offense that will push defenses to their physical limits, while opening up their ability to throw the football.
“I think this year when fans come out to the games they are going to see a team that plays really hard,” Cornwell said. “We always have great effort. Our kids really play hard, and this year will be no different. We represent our community and our school very well, so I think we’ll have a lot of exciting football to watch.”
Last year the Chargers offense was led by graduated senior running back Ray Darden. He was supported by a talented cast of Marlon Cannon, Micheal Webb, Kevin Boomer and Casper McGee. This season the A-G coaching staff have made some changes, particularly in moving Darden’s younger brother, J.C., to tight end, where he will use his six-foot, 210 pound frame to catch balls, rather than plunge up the middle in the run game, leaving more carries and yardage up for grabs.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty good group (of running backs) this year,” Cornwell said. “Marlon Cannon carried the ball quite a bit for us last year, Kevin Boomer carried it quite a bit a well. Micheal Webb got some touches last year in a lot of different ways. Those guys will all get a chance to touch the ball. J.C. gives us a threat at tight end. He has good hands and is a big, strong guy who can catch the ball and block. We want to utilize and get him the ball in those ways, so we got a good group of guys this season.”
Once again depth will play a role in how the team operates, as a small roster could create issues where players will be forced to play out of their natural positions. Luckily, the running back group has plenty of multidimensional athletes that can quickly and efficiently shift to a new spot to fill any holes that may arise on either side of the ball.
While the run game will continue to play a major role, first-year starting quarterback Josh Wright will be given more opportunities to showcase his arm this season, which can open up chances for big plays when running the football.
It could also allow for Boomer, Cannon and the rest of the group to get outside of the tackles and turn quick screens and passes into the flats into touchdowns quickly, thanks to the variety of running styles between each of the seven backs on the roster.
The Chargers open the season tonight at 7 p.m., as they host Southside.
Contact Jake Keator at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.