The Catawba Ridge Copperheads are trying to act like it’s just the start of another football season.
That’s hard to do when it’s the inaugural year for the school.
Catawba Ridge will compete in Region 3-4A but play an independent football schedule. Head coach Zac Lendyak said the expectations are that the team will do well.
“We want to set expectations high,” he said. “We are going to be the underdog every single game. We are at a disadvantage not having seniors and being a first-year program.”
Because the school is new, players will have to play on both offense and defense. Even quarterbacks Harrison Wilson and Kayden Hager will go both ways.
One thing that is helpful for the team this year is that as Lendyak installs the offense and defense, he is getting players who transitioned from Nation Ford to help those who may not be up to speed.
Lendyak also came from Nation Ford.
“We are running the same system offensively, which will be a big help,” Lendyak said. “The guys from Nation Ford are helping out the guys from Fort Mill to learn it, and that has been a help. The kids are picking it up well.”
It’s hard to say who the top players maybe. For football, the quarterback is always a good place to start. Lendyak said two players will trade time under center -- Wilson and Hager. Hager is a junior, while Wilson is a sophomore.
Other top players for the Copperheads are sophomore receiver/defensive back Jacobie Henderson, who played at Nation Ford last year, but is already getting looks by Division I schools. There are others.
“We are also real excited about (freshman) Brody Tesimale and (sophomore) DaLante McAllister,” Lendyak said. “We have some really dynamic players like Henderson and (junior) Quinton Jackson. It is early but those guys really stood out during the summer.”
What to know
Catawba Ridge has three players with any varsity experience. They all came from Nation Ford. With a mixture of Nation Ford and Fort Mill players, the team has about 80 players. The roster breakdown consists of 22 freshman, 41 sophomore and 17 juniors.
“We are as young as we can get,” Lendyak said. “There are guys that will have to play on both sides of the ball.”
Sophomores Asa Johnson and Will Lowman defensively will be looked at to lead. Wilson and Hager are looked at to lead the offense. Junior Grayson Bray is looked at to lead the line as he will play both offensive and defensive line. Junior RJ Lincoln also will be expected to lead as he will be on the defensive line and will be placed at running back on offense.
From the coach
“They want to win football games,” Lendyak said. “We know it is a tough road, but we are going out there with the intent of winning every football game we are playing. Some are really tough games, but it is what it is.”