Luke Davis's specialty on McMinn Central's football team is that he has no specialty. From middle linebacker to quarterback, there doesn't seem to be a position short of one involving kicking that he could end up playing for the Chargers this year.
"Defense is his preferred thing," McMinn Central coach Josh Goodin said, "but he'll do whatever to swing things for the team."
The Chargers graduated all-state players in fullback and middle linebacker Gage Johnson and running back and defensive back Denzell Boyd. Davis is expected mostly to help fill the voids left by Johnson, but Goodin said he'll definitely see some time at outside linebacker. It helps that they have another capable middle linebacker in junior Hunter Stokes, and several players could get time in the offensive backfield.
Preseason injuries to juniors Jackson Guy and Zayne Baxter led to a setback in the quarterback battle, so Davis was asked to step in and share some time there with sophomore Douglas Watts to help in preseason. Ultimately, Goodin is out to make sure Friday nights he'll be on the field somewhere.
"His motor does not stop," Goodin said. "If he gets tired, he'll fight through it and try to help us win the ballgame. He's extremely, intensely competitive."
Given that he believes McMinn Central's 4-3 defense is its cornerstone, Davis said offensive execution will go a long way in determining the team's fate on the field this season. Away from the field, in the halls and the locker room, Davis takes on another duty that in his mind is an equally important one in establishing success.
"My goal is to be a leader on and off the field, have a good attitude and always do my best," Davis said. "I think we can accomplish far more than we did in the past year. We've always had the skill around here. We've just needed to be glued together.
"I like to try to get everybody focused. I feel like that's another one of my roles."
- Kelley Smiddie
McMINN CENTRAL CHARGERS
Head coach: Josh Goodin (17-35 in six years here and overall)
Last year: 4-6
Returning starters (O/D/K): 8/7/1
(all games at 7:30 Eastern)
Aug. 22 - McMinn County
Aug. 29 - at Boyd-Buchanan
Sept. 5 - at Sequoyah*
Sept. 12 - at Grace Christian
Sept. 19 - Polk County*
Sept. 26 - Meigs County
Oct. 3 - at Sweetwater*
Oct. 10 - Carter
Oct. 17 - Loudon*
Oct. 31 - at Central
FB/RB/QB/LB Luke Davis (6-0, 190, Sr.) brings a competitive spirit to the squad, in addition to being able defensively to make plays from sideline to sideline. Goodin says FB/TE/DE Josh Knight (6-2, 190, Sr.) is a linebacker who's been playing defensive end. His biggest value is as a speed rusher. WR/DB Ryann Dahle (5-8, 155, Sr.) is one of the team's most athletic players, and although the defensive side is where he's probably most valuable, he seems to make all the catches when the ball is thrown his way.
WR/RB/DB Jordan Brooks (5-9, 155, Jr.) was a starter at wide receiver last year and his playing time increased in the secondary toward the end of the year. This season Goodin wants the ball in his hands more and he plans to try him at least some at running back. FB/LB Hunter Stokes (5-9, 180, Jr.) was the backup middle linebacker last season but mainly played defensive end. The plan this year is to play him at middle linebacker when Davis sets up outside. If he doesn't win the battle to play quarterback, QB/WR/DB Zayne Baxter (5-10, 160, Jr.) can be a key contributor at wide receiver, on defense or both. The coach describes him as "a hard-nosed kid."
Quote: "[Graduated all-state middle linebacker Gage Johnson] always stuck his nose in there. Once he'd get his read, he'd take off. Right or wrong, just get it and go with it." - Luke Davis