Jenkins expecting a better record in second season at Charleroi
In his first season as coach at Charleroi, Ed Jenkins knew what he had to do to establish his program.
“We took it on the chin last year, that's for sure,” Jenkins said. “But I've seen changes coming into this season that I really like. It shows that we're on the right track.”
Like last season, the Cougars will feature an inexperienced roster.
“We are real young again,” Jenkins said of the team's makeup. “But we have a great core group of seven seniors that have shown great leadership.”
One of the changes Jenkins has seen is the amount of preparation and the motivation of his team.
“Those seniors have paid their dues, and the younger guys are so motivated to win,” he said. “The biggest thing is, though, that they know our process. There is great discipline and the guys know what we expect in the locker room and our practice management. They understand the language now, which means our learning curve isn't quite as steep.”
Offensively, the Cougars took a hit in their first scrimmage against Beth-Center, as quarterback Matt Carr broke his collarbone and will miss six weeks. Luckily, the Cougars have senior Brennan Matthews, who started last season until Carr took over in Week 8, waiting in the wings. He will start the opener for the Cougars.
“Everyone is a year better, including Brennan, and it has shown,” Jenkins said. “Our guys put in a lot of good work in the offseason to get ready for this year.”
Lining up in the backfield will be punishing runner Brandon Bowman at fullback and Greg Arnold at halfback.
On the outside, the receiving corps will be led by senior Dakota Moorer.
“Dakota will be called upon to lead the group of receivers, we're going to be pretty young out there,” Jenkins said.
Across the field at wideout will be Trey Douyon, a sophomore.
“He's a track kid ... has good speed and a good football IQ,” Jenkins said of the young receiver. “He's been a pleasant surprise. Teams will have to be worried about those guys. If they get the ball, they can break away and make some things happen.”
Seniors Chase McKevitt and Brayden Shephard will man the tackle positions on the offensive line with a pair of sophomore guards, Jake Lemon on the left, and Mason Thomas on the right. Junior Kevin McClellan is the center.
“I'd say our offensive line is our strength,” Jenkins said. “We have some guys on that line that we're going to rely on their experience and leadership.”
Defensively, Bowman will look to light up opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers with his aggressiveness at linebacker.
“He loves to hit people, that's for sure,” Jenkins said of the senior. “He's big, strong and a hard worker. He knows how to get to the ball and when he does, he's going to lay it on them.”
Joining Bowman at inside linebacker will be Matthews. Sophomores Keenan Griffith and Tremaine Courtley will line up as outside linebackers.
Seniors Alec Long and Shephard will line up at defensive end with Lemon and Chad Waggoner at the tackle positions.
Moorer will lead the secondary at free safety with Arnold and Douyon at the corners.
The Cougars could feature all 11 guys playing on both sides of the ball.
“Definitely 10, maybe all 11, on both sides. We're a little thin, so we're looking and counting on some young guys to help us ot with the depth,” Jenkins said. “We still have some question marks at the skill positions, but I think a lot of our young guys are ready to compete at a high level.”
Jenkins said he expects Washington and Mt. Pleasant to battle for the conference crown, but said Jeannette's athleticism can create problems for conference foes.
“McKenzie at Wash High is going to do what he does and they got some big, fast kids,” Jenkins said. “And if there was any program out there that I could model mine after, it would be Mt. Pleasant. They're going to be real good and do a great job up there.
“We're here to compete for a playoff spot, though. We need to take care of what we can and play hard every night. We have some young kids that can play ... I really like our team.”
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.