Friday night lights for the next nine weeks
This year’s Carlinville football team may or may not have the offensive fireworks it had a year ago as time will tell, but they are hoping for the same kind of results.
Chad Easterday enters his eighth season at the helm of the Cavaliers, making the postseason each of the previous seven years. The last two years have resulted in second-round playoff losses to Auburn, and that is something the team would like to try and overcome this year.
Thus far, the team is preparing like a team ready to compete against the best teams come late October, early November.
“We’ve progressed at a really good pace,” Easterday said. “We haven’t had as many setbacks. I think that’s because of the kids. They love football and their knowledge of football is really good. We’re very pleased so far.”
The Cavaliers open Friday night against a Roxana squad coming off their first playoff appearance since 2003. While Joeb Easterday and Kinney Miles are gone from last year’s team, there are still some key personnel who will help try and keep the postseason push alive.
“Offensively, I think everybody wants to know how we are going to replace Kinney Miles and Joeb Easterday,” C. Easterday said. “I think those are our big question marks around the conference and in town.”
Adam Walton will fill in to the quarterback slot for the Cavaliers. The junior played sparingly last year, completing 11 of 15 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown.
“Adam Walton is a great kid and has been mentored into this system,” Easterday said. “He’s a kid where our expectations level is the same as it was last year. He can do those kind of things. He was just unfortunate to be behind a senior last year.”
Jacob Dixon, a junior, returns to anchor the receiving corps.
He caught 41 passes for 596 yards and a team high six touchdown receptions. He also rushed 51 times for 277 yards and nine touchdowns.
“Running back wise, I think we are going to be running back by committee,” Easterday said. “Brady Egelhoff, Dylan Chism, Mitchell Bolomey – those names you are going to read about a lot. I’m not sure if we’ll have that superstar running back this year, but I think we’ll be strong in the backfield.”
Three return on the offensive line to help open holes for the running back. They include senior Broedy Long, junior Jake Hannig and senior Mathew Bolomey. Nate Thompson and Joe Bates saw valuable experience last year as well.
“We’re pretty deep behind those kids (offensive line) which is something we haven’t been before,” Easterday said.
Defensively, both inside linebackers return with Dylan Chism (27 solo tackles, 36 assisted, two tackles for loss) and Bolomey (13 solo tackles, 21 assisted, four tackles for loss).
Three defensive backs were lost to graduation but Easterday feels confident with the group that is coming back. Last year, Dixon had five interceptions, 45 solo tackles and 26 assisted tackles along with 2.5 sacks.
Hayden Thompson returns to do the kicking chores for Carlinville. He was 21 of 25 on point after touchdown attempts last year.
“Special teams I don’t know if they were as strong as a couple of years ago when we had Barry Stewart, but I think Hayden Thompson having a season under his belt will fill that shoe this year.”
The Cavs had a short soda practice on Friday night at the practice field as equipment from the track renovations did not allow the team to have a so-called soda scrimmage on Friday.
“We’ve practiced enough,” Easterday said. “If you talk to any coach, you gotta be tested instead of just practice. You need to know where you are on the barometer. I think we’ll be there.”
Carlinville opens with Roxana. Last year, a 40-40 halftime tie in Carlinville eventually wound up with a 64-40 Cavalier victory.
The Shells do return quarterback Chance Foss and running back Blake Vandiver to the mix.
“They got their playoff berth last year and went two deep,” Easterday said. “That’s a great stepping stone for the program. They’ll be very tough and they have some key people returning with their quarterback, a tight end and a running back. Defensively they bring back four kids there.”
Greenville, 76-9 in their last 85 games under coach Todd Hutchinson, went unbeaten in the South Central Conference last year. They travel to Carlinville for a Week 3 matchup after the Cavs host Vandalia Week 2.
“We got them at home this year which will make a difference,” Easterday said.
The Cavs travel to Pana in Week 4, host and host Staunton Week 5. A matchup with rival Gillespie on the road awaits Week 6. The season concludes with home games against Hillsboro and Piasa Southwestern and a road game at Litchfield.
Pana and Gillespie are some other possible sleepers this year for the conference, Easterday added.