There are plenty of speedy players on the Callaway roster, and nobody can pick ‘em up and put ‘em down faster than Cedric Maynard.
Maynard, a junior who plays running back and linebacker, showed how fast he is during the team’s Ironman competition in July when he delivered a scorching time in the 40-yard dash.
“He had our fastest 40 time,” Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier said. “He’s really, really explosive.”
Being fast doesn’t always translate to success on the football field, but that hasn’t been a problem for the 5-foot-6 Maynard, who always stands tall.
Maynard has game-breaking ability as a running back, and he also excels in the return game where he has scored multiple touchdowns.
“He had a lot of explosive plays on kickoff returns last year,” Napier said. “He’s definitely a play-maker.”
Maynard’s role on offense will increase this season after quarterback Tez Parks and fullback Devon Rosser graduated following the 2013 season.
Senior running back Eddie Culpepper is back, but between Rosser and Parks, that is around 200 carries to replace according to Napier.
“We lost Tez and Devon Rosser. There will be opportunities for new guys like Cedric,” Napier said.
Maynard will also play a key role on defense as an outside linebacker.
Maynard didn’t start last season on defense, but he played a lot, and defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said his role will increase this year.
Maynard will play outside linebacker alongside another player, Rodney Williams, who was also a part-time player a year ago.
“Both guys that have done it before. They weren’t starters last year, but they played quite a bit,” Hubbard said. “They got in there and mixed it up. We feel like they’re not totally new to the position. They have to figure out what it’s like to do it for a 10-game season.”
The LaGrange Grangers suffered some key losses on their defensive line following the 2013 season.
That was a senior-laden position, so heading into the 2014 season, the coaches needed to find some players who could hopefully make an impact at that position.
LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks believes he has found someone who can play a key role up front.
Senior Dy Dunlap, a standout player on the basketball team, will be one of LaGrange’s defensive linemen.
Dunlap didn’t play football last season, so there is a learning curve, but Burks said the talent and the potential is there for him to be a productive player this fall.
“If you see him on the court, he’s playing football on the court,” Burks said. “We’re just trying to get him to transition that energy to the football field. And he’s figuring it out.”
If the plan comes together, Dunlap and fellow senior Antonias Fanning will make things difficult for opposing offenses from their defensive-end positions.
“(Dunlap) on one end, and Antonias on the other end, they are guys that can run,” Burks said. “We should create a lot of pressure, as long as we hold the middle.”
Brandon Sutton was a three-year starter on the offensive line for the Cavaliers, and he was one of the team leaders.
Replacing a player like that isn’t easy, but it helps to have players like Laye back in the fold.
Laye was a starting offensive lineman as a sophomore a year ago, and he’ll be back in the lineup this year.
Laye’s contributions won’t be limited to the offensive side of the football, though.
Callaway was hit hard by graduation on the defensive line, and Laye figures to get plenty of playing time on the defensive side this season.
Defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard would like to have him in there nearly every play, but he understands how important he is to offense as well.
“We feel he’s as good as any of our defensive lineman,” Hubbard said. “But we’ll have to limit his reps.”
The Grangers scored one touchdown during Friday’s preseason game against Newnan, and it was junior running back Kimani Barnes doing the honors.
While senior Mon Denson, who has verbally committed to South Carolina, is the team’s number one option at running back, the Grangers have plenty of other men capable of doing some big things in the running game.
One of those players is Barnes, who will also be a key player from his linebacker position.
Burks has high praise for Barnes’ offensive ability, comparing him to one of the greatest players to ever occupy the running-back position.
“I call him a little Barry Sanders,” Burks said. “I’ve seen his game. When he gets going, he’s tough to handle.”
Another player sort of in the same situation as Barnes is junior Bobby Willoughby, who will also play running back and linebacker.
Burks expects Willoughby’s role on defense to increase as Barnes gets more time on offense.
“Bobby Willoughby will provide a lot of depth there,” Burks said. “We’re looking for him to really come on and play (linebacker), because those guys will be playing on offense as well.”