Once again, Silverdale Baptist Academy's high school football team is small in numbers. And once again, expect the Seahawks to be big on heart.
"I call us a blue-collar private Christian school," said Al Rogers, who coached the middle school team for three years before taking over the high school program last year. "The kids that play here know about a hard work ethic and are willing to put forth the effort needed.
"The difference between us and a public school," added Rogers, a 20-year coaching veteran who came to Silverdale from Ooltewah, "is the desire for the Christian aspect, and the parents are much more involved here, which is good."
However, there can only be so much parental involvement when there are 28 players. Making things more challenging for Rogers and his staff, 25 are juniors or younger.
The seniors will at least play prominent roles, and not just from a performance standpoint.
"There are a lot of young kids looking at you, so you have to make sure you do everything right," said Tyler Gibson, who will help protect classmate and quarterback Spencer Mossburg from right tackle. "You want to let them know this is how you play."
Center and defensive end Kendall Shoemaker is the other senior.
"We can improve, but as long as we've got 11 guys out there willing to give it their all on every play, we can win ballgames," Shoemaker said. "We just need to focus on the task at hand."
"And be like Nike," Gibson added, to which Shoemaker replied, "Just do it."
FAN'S GUIDE TO THIS YEAR'S SILVERDALE BAPTIST SEAHAWKS
Coach: Al Rogers (4-6 here in first season and overall) Stadium Address: 7236 Bonny Oaks Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37421
1) A lot of sophomores received playing time last season. They're now experienced juniors.
2) Three seniors are 't many, but two play on the offensive line. Kendall Shoemaker will start at center and Tyler Gibson will start at right tackle.
3) Quarterback is a strength with returner and senior Spencer Mossburg. Coach Rogers said Mossburg's leadership qualities are equally as valuable as the performances expected from him.
1) The Seahawks don't have two Spencer Mossburgs. They need him to stay healthy.
2) With a roster of 28, any injury causing a frontline player to miss multiple games becomes significant.
3) The Seahawks gave up 20 or more points in each of the last five games last season. They hope that trend doesn't carry over.
BY THE NUMBERS
5 - Seasons in the last six in which the Seahawks have won at least four games, after a 1-9 first year.
8 - Games allowing 20 or more points last year. The other two were shutout victories.
17 - Point barrier for the Seahawks last season. When they scored this many or fewer, they lost. When they scored more, they won.
Three questions with...
(Senior quarterback and safety)
Q. What will Silverdale be able to do better this year than last and why?
A. I think finishing games, because we have much more experience as a team and as starters, so really just playing a full game. Coming out strong and finishing strong in the fourth. That's what we should do better.
Q. What is the strength of this year's team?
A. Really just experience. Last year we had a lot of sophomores out there with not as much experience, and this year the junior class is a real backbone for the team. They've got experience under them now. That's really a strength. We're going to have the intelligence out there on the field, knowing what's going on, and knowing what to think the next play.
Q. What has to happen for Silverdale to have a successful season?
A. We have to continue to work hard and get better every day. Play for each other, really getting better every day and getting closer as a team. Trusting the guy next to you. If that comes, there's really not anything that should hold us back.
Silverdale's 7-4 record in 2007 is its only winning season in the varsity program's seven-year history. The Seahawks earned their first trip to the state playoffs that year and followed that with berths the next two years as well. They're still seeking their first postseason victory. Here's a look at the regular-season win total the last five years:
Season 1 5 10
Aug. 17 at Clay County
Aug. 24 Community
Aug. 31 Boyd-Buchanan*
Sept. 7 at Meigs County
Sept. 14 Copper Basin*
Sept. 21 at Whitwell
Sept. 28 at Lancaster Christian
Oct. 5 Chattanooga Christian
Oct. 12 Lookout Valley
Oct. 26 at Grace Academy*
*District 5-A game
2011 STATS LEADERS
RUSHING Att Yards Avg TD
*Matt McCulley 102 441 4.3 8
*Josh Rogers 60 293 4.9 1
Josh Bryant 53 256 4.8 2
RECEIVING Att Yards Avg TD
Chase Turner 5 121 24.2 1
*Colton Rogers 6 92 15.3 0
1 Jordan Delashmitt Sophomore
2 Grant Williams Junior
4 Stone Hood Junior
5 Matt Millard Junior
14 Spencer Mossburg Senior
17 Daniel Guinn Junior
18 Logan Brackett Freshman
21 Tristan Huggins Junior
24 Hunter Arnold Freshman
25 Ethan Phillips Freshman
29 Matt McCulley Junior
32 Lincoln Phillips Junior
33 Colton Rogers Junior
34 Joshua Rogers Junior
44 Jake Locklear Freshman
46 Anderson Blea Freshman
51 Aubrey Shamblin Junior
53 Josh Brady Freshman
55 Kendall Shoemaker Senior
56 Cameron Eaves Freshman
62 Ben Bower Junior
63 Austin Smith Sophomore
65 Joe McDonald Sophomore
68 Tanner Gibson Freshman
72 Jonathan Sanders Sophomore
78 Tyler Gibson Senior
84 Nathan Keylon Sophomore
86 Cameron Webb Freshman