By Anthony Rhoads
Blake Springer and Chris Martin want to go out as winners.
The seniors at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy have been a part of a football team that has steadily improved over the last few years and they feel like this is the sseaon the Chargers can really make some noise.
The Chargers finished last season at 6-6 and they advanced to the Elite 8 of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs.
"I think we'll be there; we want to win the state championship," said Springer, a two-time all-region player at linebacker and fullback. "It's the best team we've had here in a while. Being a senior gives us more of an incentive to win."
Martin returns as a starter at wingback and cornerback.
"We have a good chance to win this year and go on to state," Martin said. "We really want to win this year. We have senior leadership and the younger guys want to step up."
One loss the Chargers have had to deal with this year is Jake Hiett, who was the GISA all-classification rushing leader as a sophomore. Hiett is playing for head coach Mike Parris at Jackson High School.
"He was a great player but I think we'll do just as good without him," Springer said. "I think we'll be a better all-around team."
Eagle's Landing Christian has greater numbers this season with about 36 players on the varsity squad. The program will also have a ?B' team for the first time in school history.
The Chargers have also attracted transfers from other schools in Henry County, who are expected to contribute this year.
Five senior transfers are guard/defensive tackle John Norman (Mt. Vernon), tackle/nose guard Justin Hicks (Mt. Vernon), wingback/safety Ty Bates (Eagle's Landing High School), linebacker/wingback David Saldato (Henry County) and tight end/free safety Justin Walker (Mt. Vernon).
Hicks stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 305 pounds and could play at the collegiate level.
"He was at Georgia Southern's summer camp and they liked what they saw in him," ELCA head coach Tim Luke said. "He's new to our program and comes from a very successful eight-man program at Mt. Vernon."
Hicks will be one of the anchors on an offensive line that has an average height of 6-1 and an average weight of 250 pounds.
"We're very big for this league; we're big for any league," Luke said.
Other key players on the 2003 squad will be junior quarterback Cole Springer and tight end Alec Huber.
Eagle's Landing Christian opens the 2003 season Aug. 22 at home against Monroe Academy.
The Chargers play in Region 1-AAA, which includes George Walton, Augusta Christian and Riverside Military.