Eddie White Academy coach Mareno Philyaw will be relying players that played reserves roles last season to fill in as starters to help the team get back to the championship game. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
HAMPTON – The Eddie White Academy football program has only been in existence five years, but the Wolves head into this season fresh off their second appearance in the county’s middle school championship game.
M.D. Roberts defeated the Wolves 20-8 in that game, preventing Eddie White football from winning its first county championship.
“It was heartbreaking, but we’re going to get back there this year and we’re going to win it all,” said running back/strong safety Bernard Turner.
Turner, an eighth-grader who was a backup last season, is one of several skill position players looking to replace teammates who were lost to graduation.
“The [backups] played a lot, so they should be able to step in, be starters this year, and do a very good job,” said Eddie White coach Mareno Philyaw.
Turner is especially looking to take on a bigger role as Philyaw says his team lost most of their running backs. Also gone is a big part of their passing game.
“We definitely lost one of our key receivers who we just could throw it up to whenever we were in a bind,” Philyaw said. “I think we have a few kids who have the potential to be those types of [game changers].”
Tasked with getting the ball to those play-makers will be first-year starting quarterback Christian Grant. Philyaw says Grant has experience and is doing a great job so far in practice.
Wide receiver/corner back Terry Lawrence is another one of the skill guys stepping into an expanded role. He relishes what he has seen so far from his teammates in practice.
“I like the offensive line, the quarterback, we got a nice little running back on our squad,” he said. “I just want to see us blow teams out this year.”
In addition to having big expectations for his teammates, Lawrence has the personal goals of scoring five touchdowns on offense and getting two interceptions on defense. If he is to accomplish those goals, the units around him will also have to have a good year.
One of the players that will be playing on the unit directly in front of Lawrence’s secondary, the linebackers, is eighth-grade middle linebacker Jakwon Everson, a returning starter.
“We’re trying to get the players who came out this year to play like we played last year,” Everson said. “We were an undefeated team and we want to go back to the championship.”