By Anthony Rhoads
When the Eagle's Landing Christian Academy Chargers take on Monroe Academy tonight, there will be a few noticeable differences in the team.
First, the team has increased its numbers significantly from last year. Last season's squad had about 22 players; tonight nearly 40 players will suit up to play in the 2003 season opener at home.
Second, the team got its weight room completed earlier this spring and it should pay dividends on the football field. The Chargers are stronger and are better conditioned than they have ever been, Luke said.
"We're fired up and are ready to go," he said. "We're excited about the participation and the excellent work ethic. Our summer was excellent and our kids have worked hard in the weight room and the difference has shown. We're hitting harder and we're more physical."
Luke expects a tough contest with Monroe, one of the top double-A teams in the GISA.
"Monroe is traditionally scrappy and this year is no different," he said. "They play very hard and they have an excellent coaching staff. We have no room for error; we're going to have to bring our ?A' game."
Luke said the game will come down to the fundamentals.
"A superior kicking game, turnovers and conditioning will win 99 percent of any season openers," he said.
Senior fullback/strong safety Blake Springer looks forward to getting his final season underway. He's confident about playing Monroe; he knows Monroe is tough but the Chargers are up to the task.
"I think I'm kind of glad we're opening up with them because we're going to ?whup' up on them," he said. "We had a great summer. It probably was one of the best summers we've had here. It makes us extremely eager to play hard. I feel we'll have a good season and be a good team this year."
Senior defensive back/wingback Chris Martin feels if the team can get a victory tonight, it will set the tone of the rest of the season.
"It's probably the biggest game of the season," he said. "It will get us on the right track this season. I think it will be a good game and we're definitely a better team this year. We've really worked hard this summer. It motivates and pushes us to win the first game after all the hard work we've put in."
Last season, Eagle's Landing Christian went 6-6 and advanced to the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs. In 2001, the team went 7-5 and made the Class AA state tournament.
"If we work hard and if we come together in unity, we will definitely get some wins this year," senior offensive and defensive lineman John Norman said. "I'm looking forward to a good season."