Eagles open 2016 season against champs: Ben’s Ford looking for bounceback year

Published 6:14 am Friday, August 19, 2016

The regular season is here for Ben’s Ford Christian School.

Tonight, the Eagles are traveling to Wilkinson County Christian Academy in Woodville, Miss., to face the Class AA state champions.

Ben’s Ford struggled last year, going 1-9, but the win was a 40-36 victory over WCCA.

Ben’s Ford was scheduled to host a jamboree, but it was cancelled due to inclement weather.

First-year coach Robert N. Cook said this week has been about refocusing.

“We missed our jamboree because of the weather, so our kids are wanting to hit somebody besides us,” Cook said. “This week of practice has been about trying to refocus. You try to reach that crescendo for Friday night. We did last week, but were unable to play.”

Cook said he’s excited about the regular season.

“I’m ready to unleash this team,” Cook said. “I’m ready to find out if we’re doing the right things as a coaching staff. A lot of questions are going to start being answered at about 7:01 Friday night.”

The quarterback competition at Ben’s Ford is still ongoing and Cook said the starter will be a game time decision.

The three signal callers are Tyler Winstead, Jeremiah Slocum and Cameron Miller. Cook said the two that don’t start at quarterback would still play at another position. He said all three are all talented athletes, and they all need to be on the field.

The running backs will be “done by committee,” Cook said.

Cook said defensively, the Eagles have a scrappy unit.

“We hope to fly to the ball and we hope to force turnovers,” Cook said.

Wilkinson comes in after going 12-2 last season and capturing the Class AA title.

One of the team’s top athletes is senior quarterback Caleb Poole, who was a touchdown machine last year. Poole tallied touchdowns six different ways last season — interception, kickoff and punt returns, along with passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns.

He finished with 3,100 all-purpose yards and had 40 touchdowns.

Poole moved to quarterback in week six from a wide receiver/running back role.

“He’s special,” WCCA coach Chris McGraw said. “He can do a little bit of everything. He knows when it’s time to find another gear. He never got caught from behind from last year.”

Running back Steven Franks ran for more than 700 yards last season with 10 touchdowns. He averaged more than 11 yards per carry.

Also at running back is Braden Passinger. The wide receivers are Cole Boyd, Bennett Vannoy and Hutch Holden.

Defensively, the top player is Poole, but McGraw said the coaching staff tries to keep him fresh by not playing him much on defense.

Holden had 112 tackles last season at linebacker, while Passinger had 100 tackles at linebacker.