Great Falls was bitten by the injury bug before the high school football season even properly started.
Actually, it was a brown recluse spider that bit offensive lineman Tyler Langley on his belly. Fortunately, Langley has healed and he’s been cleared to play Friday night when the Red Devils take on Alleghany (N.C.) in the opening scrimmage of the Chester County Jamboree.
It’s a situation that sums up Great Falls football: quality, not quantity. Langley made Class A All-State last fall and will be a critical piece up front for the Red Devils, along with fellow All-State selection and senior Ty Ross. Coach Kenneth Schofield only has about six offensive lineman to choose from, though, so one injury becomes a very nerve-wracking development.
“We went through a lot of injuries last year, we went through a lot of injuries the year before,” said Schofield. “We’re gonna do what we have to to put a competitive program out there on the field. We’re gonna show you what we’ve got, because that’s what we have.”
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The “quantity” facet of the story is a tired one at Great Falls, because it’s an annual reality for a school with only about 230 students. Instead, the quality should get the attention, and Schofield’s senior bunch has plenty of that.
Wingback Lamarion Craine should be in for a good year. The 2013 All-Region performer is getting recruiting interest from Wofford, Presbyterian and Furman, in part because of his 4.6 speed and ability to bench-press 300 pounds and squat 480, as well as his 4.8 grade point average and 26 on the ACT. Schofield said that Craine, who stands 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, has great feet, good hands and eyes, “the whole thing.”
“He’s a good athlete, a strong athlete too,” Schofield added. “He’s a wonderful athlete to coach, so we’re looking forward to that.”
All-Region quarterback Chris Culp is another smart senior. He picked up one of the team’s academic awards last season and returns after throwing for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, with just four interceptions. At 6-foot, 225 pounds, Culp is a thick figure at linebacker, and no fun to tackle as as a scrambling quarterback, as long as “he carries the ball right,” according to Schofield.
“He’s learning, he’s coming around,” said Great Falls’ coach of 15 seasons. “Most teams would love to have him as a quarterback.”
Craine’s wingback partner, fellow senior Shy Kelly, is built a little differently. At 6-foot-3, 180, he makes the biggest impact in the secondary batting away passes, but he’s got 4.5 speed and can hit the corner hurriedly in Schofield’s wing-t offense. Fullback Hakeem Simpson is another returning player, and Schofield said he knows the offense better than anyone. With three seniors and a junior, Great Falls’ offensive backfield is ready to produce.
“In our wing-t, they’re extremely valuable,” said Schofield.
The Red Devil skill players will only be as good, though, as the big guys in front of them. Ross is receiving plenty of college recruiting attention, while junior twins Tyrek and Malek Hoover will both start at tackle. There aren’t many more bodies after that. With such a paucity of offensive linemen available, their health becomes extremely important.
“We’ve got six offensive linemen; five are gonna play,” said Schofield, before adding, “Gotta’ stay healthy, and stay away from the spiders.”