There are plenty of things to be excited about for the Covenant football team this year.
The Rams welcome a new head coach in Chris Oxford, who left CFCA when Wes Tanner left the Rams to go to Piedmont. They are also playing in a new league, the GICAA. But the biggest change is where they will play their home football games. For the first time, Covenant will play on a true home field, which is located on the Covenant campus.
“To say that we are excited would have to be an understatement,” said running back Owen Freel, who had close to 1,000 yards on the ground as a sophomore. “Playing on our campus on Friday nights is really what high school football is all about. We have worked hard to learn a new system, and we want to be able to represent our school and give them some wins.”
Covenant is coming off a two-win season in Tanner’s only year as the head coach and ended the season with only 16 players. But Oxford believes those numbers will almost double for the 2014 season.
“We will definitely dress at least 30 this year with a chance to get to around 35,” Oxford said. “When you have that many, there is actually competition for starting spots, and that makes the kids work even harder. The summer program has been met with a great response, and I am very excited about what this football team is capable of doing.”
Covenant will run the wishbone this season and will feature three quality backs, led by Freel. But Oxford was gushing about two other backs who will get plenty of carries.
“Leon Simmons is a very gifted, speedy back who runs a 4.45 40, and if we can give him an open field, he will make big plays,” Oxford said. “To go with him and Owen, we have Khristian Tate, who will play fullback. He is 270 pounds and has 4.8 speed, and I think he can be a difference-maker. I really feel like we are looking at a legitimate college football player. Plus, we will average 225 pounds on our offensive line. I feel like the new league fits us to a tee, and we will be playing schools our own size.”
The defense will be led by freshman linebacker Jourdain Irvin, who is already 220 pounds, and Tate, who will also play linebacker.
“This is a new start for us, and we were all frustrated by all the losing last year,” said Tate, who admitted that he likes playing defense a little more than offense. “The new league gives us a great chance to be successful, and we are all happy with the coaching change. We were sad to see Coach Tanner leave but just as excited when Coach Oxford got here.”
COVENANT IN 2014
Head coach: Chris Oxford (12-29 in four seasons overall; first season at Covenant).
2013 record: 2-9.
2014 region: GICAA 1-AA.
Returning starters: 7 on offense; 7 on defense.
Players to watch: Khristian Tate (6-0, 260, Jr., OL/LB); Jourdain Irvin (5-9, 220, Fr., G/LB); Leon Simmons (5-9, 155, Soph., RB/S).
Aug. 29 at Crisp Academy
Sept. 5 Nathanael Greene
Sept. 12 at Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 26 at John Hancock
Oct. 3 Fullington
Oct. 10 at Sherwood Christian
Oct. 17 Community Christian
Oct. 24 Calvary Christian
Oct. 31 at Creekside
Nov. 7 CFCA