Young Americans Christian School football has gotten accustomed to winning.
When head coach Chuck McCullough rejoined the program last season, he didn’t quite know what to expect with the program changing from 11-man to 8-man football. He soon came to realize that their losing ways were a thing of the past.
The Eagles ripped off four wins in their first five games of 2018, the best start in program history. And while their hopes of becoming the first YACS football team to make the playoffs fell just short, it didn’t stop their momentum heading into the offseason.
Last Friday, the Eagles (1-0) won their second straight season-opener in what was their biggest shutout victory in program history, 45-0 over Peoples Baptist Academy. Last season, the Eagles lost to the Knights 26-6 in region play.
The Eagles used a 297-yard rushing performance to defeat the Knights with 145 yards coming from the legs of senior quarterback Dean Thomas. It was the play of senior running back, defensive back Ethan Rogers that put on a clinic, however.
“They had beaten us the last two times, so to get a win against those guys was a pretty big deal,” McCullough said. “The guy who really stole the show was Ethan. He finished with 114 yards rushing and had a couple of long runs. He also had a long interception return for a touchdown. He had a huge night.”
McCullough also pointed out the play of senior Jake Haynes, who finished with 15 tackles. Freshman Nathan Cox led the way with 17 tackles while Thomas added 12 and recorded an interception.
After returning to his position as head coach in 2017, McCullough said that with another year of preparing to coach what used to be a foreign system in 8-man football, both he and his coaching staff know exactly how to lead the Eagles into battle on Friday nights.
“Yeah, I think so,” McCullough said. “The coaching staff is still together from last year and I think all-in-all, we have a much better handle on what to do successfully. We have a chance to be explosive on any given play.”
With the many hours McCullough has spent around his team this offseason and based off of what he saw last Friday, he believes this team has what it takes to make the playoffs for the first time in program history.
“I think this team has the potential to be a playoff team, I really do,” McCullough said. “I think we can go deep into the playoffs with this team. We’ve changed conferences. We’re in GISA now, so we’ll probably see a little tougher competition, but I think this team is going to be just fine.”
McCullough pointed to his good mix of upper and lowerclassmen that he thinks will be the recipe for success in 2019.
“There are a lot of new guys stepping up,” McCullough said. “I think this year’s team has more talent all the way around. We have offensive threats all over the field. We have a couple of new kids who are almost as fast as Dean. One player to look out for is Tre Coddington. He’s still learning his position, but he has a lot of potential at tailback.”
The Eagles are set to travel to Covenant Academy on Friday in what will be their first road game of 2019. In order to come away with a victory, McCullough said that they will have to be very disciplined, especially on defense.
“They run the option really well,” McCullough said. “We have to be disciplined. They will have a little better passing game than we saw last week. It’s going to be a tough game, but I feel like this team should be able to handle it.”