New coach leading Cougars
Published 1:10 pm Thursday, August 15, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Lafayette Christian School Cougars are under new leadership.
The Cougars, who played for a state championship last season, will be led onto the field by a new head coach this fall.
Billy Bryant, an assistant at Lafayette Christian the past two years, was promoted to the top position after previous head coach Nate Shaw stepped down.
Bryant has been coaching football for decades, including a stint at Callaway Middle School before he came to Lafayette Christian School, and he is a strong believer in what the sport can teach players, both on the field and off.
“The main thing is getting these guys ready for life,” Bryant said. “Everything that happens in a football game we try to relate it to life. Sometimes you play your heart out and you win, and sometimes you play your heart out and you get beat. When you make a mistake you own up to it, and everybody rallies around you and says we’re going to get it back.”
Bryant wants the football field to be a place where everyone feels comfortable.
With that in mind, he said “we don’t allow or tolerate put-downs, or any kind of condescending comments on the field. If I hear it, I address it in a way that hopefully teaches the guys something, but doesn’t embarrass or humiliate them.”
Lafayette Christian opens its season at Central Fellowship Christian Academy in Macon on Friday.
It’s the first of three straight road games for Lafayette Christian, which plays its home opener on Sept. 6 against Fullington Academy.
The Cougars have some major shoes to fill, with some key players having graduated. Included in that group is Landon Whitley, a four-year starter at quarterback.
The cupboard is far from bare, though.
Among the returnees is senior Nathan Fain, who’ll replace Whitley at quarterback.
“Toward the end of the season when Landon was nursing a hurt shoulder, we played Nathan at quarterback, and he did a good job for us,” Bryant said. “He really took the team in the last couple of games, and he was really a coach on the field. He’s carried that over to this year.”
Other returning players are Colin Everett, Cason Firth, Ben Dixon and Nathan Karvelas, and senior Nathan Hudson is back after missing the past two years.
“There’s a whole group of those guys that have played together since middle school, and they know each other, they know the nuances, they’re going to complement each other in their running, their blocking, their tackling,” Bryant said. “So we’re looking for the seniors, as well as our juniors, to lead the team, and they know what it’s like to play for the title, and they’re going to do what’s necessary.”
Bryant and the other coaches have also worked with the players to make sure they can play multiple positions.
Teams can only have 24 players on the roster, so some people will have to play more than one spot.
“With that, we told the guys you’ve got to cross train,” Bryant said. “If somebody goes down, we’ve got to put somebody in there. So our freshmen are stepping up, and our sophomores that were freshmen last year, most of them are first-teamers.”