published Friday, August 17th, 2012

Preps Preview: Signal Mountain Eagles

Signal Mountain's Chris Abernathy, No. 88, runs for a first down with Ridgeland's Cody Davis, No. 45, not far behind in the second quarter during a preseason scrimmage at Ridgeland High School in Rossville, Ga.
Signal Mountain's Chris Abernathy, No. 88, runs for a first down with Ridgeland's Cody Davis, No. 45, not far behind in the second quarter during a preseason scrimmage at Ridgeland High School in Rossville, Ga.
Photo by Alyson Wright.

BY THE NUMBERS

2 — Wins credited to the Eagles a year ago. They won on the field eight times but were forced to give up six victories after the TSSAA ruled that they had played an ineligible player (Tim McClendon), leaving them out of the postseason.

20 — Fewest points the Eagles have scored in a game. Signal Mountain lost 48-20 to South Pittsburg on Sept. 18, 2009, in their initial varsity season.

26 — Times the Eagles have scored at least 40 points in their three-year history, which includes 36 games. They have tallied 50 or more 11 times (30.5 percent).

SCHEDULE

Aug. 17 at East Hamilton

Aug. 24 at Tyner

Aug. 31 Bledsoe County*, 7

Sept. 7 Blackman, 7

Sept. 14 at Grundy County*, 8

Sept. 21 at South Pittsburg, 8

Sept. 28 at Notre Dame*, 7

Oct. 5 Polk County, 7

Oct. 11 at Chattanooga Christian*

Oct. 26 Sequatchie County*, 7

* District 7-AA game

Games start at 7:30 p.m. except where noted.

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES

Coach: Bill Price (Third year here, 144-97 in his 28 years)

Stadium address: 2650 Sam Powell Trail, Signal Mountain, TN 37377

RECENT HISTORY

Most observers had Signal pegged for a deep run in the Class 4A playoffs, and they were headed in the right direction despite a lopsided loss at Class 6A powerhouse Blackman and a one-point upset at Polk County. That loss in Benton came on the day they were informed by the TSSAA they would have to vacate six victories for playing an ineligible player. While they had eight wins, their official 2011 spreadsheet reads 2-2. Here’s a look at the regular-season win total for the last three years:

Season 1 5 10

2011 ——(2)*

2010 ——————————(10)

2009 —————————(9)

* vacated six wins; ineligible player

THREE STRENGTHS

1) A proven quarterback. Reese Phillips is coming off an all-state season in which he threw for almost 1,900 yards and 21 TDs with only four interceptions. Although he has started just 10 games, the University of Kentucky commitment will be counted on heavily to adjust the Eagles’ offense on the fly.

2) Speed and size. The offensive line, man for man, will be the largest Signal has fielded, and the defensive line likely will average 240-250 pounds with above average speed. Among players expected to make major impacts are sophomore linebackers Cale Shelton, Hunter Vandyken, Caaleb Manzel and Chris Femester.

3) Coaching. In addition to Price’s long career of program building, his assistants include two former head coaches, Ernie McCarson and Troy Boeck, and defensive coordinator Bumper Reese has been a head baseball coach for more than a decade.

THREE CONCERNS

1) The Eagles graduated their top five wing-T rushers, and the question is how much new depth Coach Price has developed. Keep an eye on Diamez Franklin, a junior who sat out last season, and Harrison Hall, who’ll spend much of his time at linebacker.

2) In addition to running backs departing, Signal also lost receivers Jon Patton and Will Queen, who accounted for more than 1,600 of quarterback Phillips’ 1,895 passing yards. Leading candidates to replace them are seniors Chris Abernathy, Casey Johnson and Madison Byrd.

3) Price said he has only three returning starters, including Phillips, defensive tackle Elijah Turnage, who may also get a look at fullback, and punter/kicker Houston McClain. That is somewhat misleading because upwards of two dozen players including sophomore tight end Harrison Moon (6–6, 250), linebacker/running back Hall and defensive tackle James McLellan got extensive playing time, especially in second halves when games often were tucked into the win column early.

THREE QUESTIONS WITH THOMAS GAUTHIER

(Senior center)

Q: What are Signal’s prospects this year?

A: We’re getting a new administration and I’m looking forward to it. I have a great feeling about this football season. It’s going to be tough but definitely rewarding. We are inexperienced as far as actual game time, but a lot of us have been together four years and we know how it works.

Q: What’s it like to play for Bill Price?

A: It’s a lot of fun. It’s challenging and demanding, but that’s part of it. Coach Price is a great coach. He’s a nice guy who knows when to be tough. When we’re on the [practice] field, it’s get out there and get down to business. He has a strict schedule and he always makes sure everything is up-tempo and that everybody is upbeat.

Q: What does it take to be a starter at Signal Mountain?

A: You have to work hard and you have to prove you’re the best for your position. Coach Price doesn’t look much at age. If a sophomore is better than a junior, the sophomore will start. It’s about work. When I came into the program as a freshman I was benching 85 pounds. Now I’m benching 335.


ROSTER

1 Dylan Buck - Senior

2 Diamez Franklin - Junior

3 Robert Turner - Senior

4 Nathan Johnson - Freshman

5 Evan Greve - Junior

6 Zach Brown - Junior

7 Griffin Moon - Senior

8 Levi Glasscock - Sophomore

9 Jack Teeters - Sophomore

10 Cody Snow - Junior

11 Reese Phillips - Senior

12 Chris Femester - Sophomore

13 Cody Dehart - Freshman

14 Jack Chandler - Freshman

15 J.R. Wilson - Sophomore

16 Houston Mainord - Freshman

17 C.J. Johnson - Senior

18 Dallas Payeton - Sophomore

19 Harrison Hall - Senior

20 Ryan Claxton - Junior

21 Jamil Mathis - Senior

22 Clay Adams - Freshman

23 Hunter Vandyken - Sophomore

24 Ben Philyaw - Senior

25 Tavarius Hodge - Sophomore

26 James McClean - Junior

27 Walter Gailmard - Sophomore

28 Cale Shelton - Sophomore

29 Kaleb Menzel - Sophomore

30 Houston McClain - Junior

32 Elijah Turnage - Senior

33 Kade Oglesby - Freshman

34 Chris Moore - Sophomore

35 Jason Mooris - Freshman

36 Hunter Phillips - Freshman

37 Lee Nagel - Freshman

38 Austin Miller - Freshman

39 Hunter Broughton - Freshman

40 Taylor Harvey - Senior

41 Jack Rockholt - Sophomore

42 Ben Brown - Junior

44 Harrison Moon - Sophomore

46 Layton Neal - Freshman

48 Miacheal Cate - Freshman

50 Cole Sitton - Junior

52 Will Hawkins - Senior

55 Dusty Hall - Junior

56 Jared Menzel - Freshman

57 Andy Faulk - Freshman

58 Devin Layman - Sophomore

60 Shaquille Collier - Junior

64 Colin Rich - Junior

65 Thomas Gauthier - Senior

66 Jacob Wright - Junior

67 Jake Williams - Senior

71 Brandon Coleman - Sophomore

72 Joey Welch - Sophomore

73 Aaron Williams - Sophomore

74 Davis Brock - Junior

76 Marcus Hardy - Freshman

78 William Franklin - Sophomore

79 Grant Hensley - Sophomore

80 Ryan McCaffrey - Sophomore

81 Drake Cunningham - Freshman

84 Adam Wolfe - Senior

85 Madison Byrd - Senior

86 Patrick Bruce - Senior

88 Chris Abernathy - Senior

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