Carter Canady was the youngster of sorts last year on Stratford’s offensive line.
As a junior, Canady joined the likes of seniors Alex Koplin, Cole Garrett and Connor Collins to provide some veteran leadership up front.
Now, with those senior linemen gone, Canady is helping to break in a new group, one that has to pick up the nuances of the wing-T offense.
“We’ve got a whole different group,” said Canady, a guard who also plays defensive end. “We had a whole bunch of seniors who were on the offensive line last year. It’s going to be really hard to replace those guys. We’ve got to have guys step up. But we have a group of guys that I feel will get the job done.”
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Misdirection is at the heart of the Stratford offense. More than 90 percent of the Eagles’ total offense came on the ground, with two running backs (O’Showen Williams and Austin Devenney) combining for 1,877 yards during the regular season last year.
With misdirection comes pulling and trapping. For linemen, that means a lot of study time with the playbook.
“It’s a little bit of an illusion, our offense,” Canady said. “We don’t have the biggest guys on our line, but we have tricks up our sleeves.
“It takes a lot of intelligence. You’ve got to go over every single play, every single pull. You’ve got to know everything everybody else on the line is doing. You have to know where the wingback is going. You basically have to know everything on the offense, inside and out.”
Not all of the linemen are brand new to varsity play, with some seeing time last year to cover for injuries or to give other players breaks. Still, Canady has accepted the role of mentor and leader, preparing the line for the upcoming season.
It’s a role that comes with expectations. Following a rich history of success in the GISA that included a title game appearance two years ago, Stratford went 6-5 last season in its return to the GHSA and picked up a close win over FPD in the resumption of that intense rivalry.
“He has been (a teacher) for the guards, there’s no doubt about it,” Stratford head coach Mark Farriba said. “In our offense, our guards are pretty significant players. There’s a pretty big learning curve at that position.
“I told all of them that they can ask me anything they want to, but they can also ask Carter because he is certainly capable of answering any of their questions.”
ABOUT THE STRATFORD EAGLES
Head coach: Mark Farriba (163-105-3 in 24 seasons overall; 43-28 in six seasons at Stratford).
Assistant coaches: Jamie Dickey (offensive coordinator); Ross Bridges (defensive coordinator), David Bailey, Walt Mays, Cater Pierce.
Offensive scheme: Wing-T.
Defensive scheme: 3-4.
2014 record: 6-5.
Region: GHSA 7A-A.
Returning starters: Six on offense; nine on defense.
Players to watch: O’Showen Williams (Sr., WB/DB); Quintez Cephus (Sr., SE/DB); Carter Canady (Sr., G/DE); Jack Peterson (Sr., LB); Justin Griffin (Jr., G/DE); Larson McDaniel (Soph., TE/LB); Tobe Umerah (Soph., T/NT).
Aug. 28 at Savannah Country Day
Sept. 4 at Wesleyan
Sept. 18 Aquinas
Sept. 25 at GMC
Oct. 2 FPD
Oct. 9 Tattnall Square
Oct. 16 Twiggs County
Oct. 23 at Mount de Sales
Oct. 30 at Wilkinson County
Nov. 6 Region 7-A crossover