The Greenbrier football team is eager to put last season in the rearview mirror.
Inexperience, injuries and a lack of physicality caused the Bobcats to drop their first four games. Wins over White House Heritage and Cheatham County came later in the year, but the Greenbrier defense gave up far too many points (33 per game) to make up for limited offensive production (11 points per game).
Changes are coming to both sides of the ball in 2020. The Bobcats will have a new starting quarterback and have shifted from a 4-2-5 defensive formation to a 3-3 stack to better fit their current personnel.
“Especially defensively, (physicality) was a problem,” Elmore said. “It seems like we’ve been a little bit more aggressive (this year). Obviously, we won’t know that until we step on the field. That’s one of problems with not having scrimmages and jamborees (due to COVID-19 concerns).”
Several position battles are ongoing – none bigger than the one happening behind center. Junior Brogan Harden and sophomore Braxton Laney have been joined by senior Stoney Smith, who did not play football last season, as the three quarterbacks fighting for the starting job.
Smith is committed to play baseball at Middle Tennessee and has “an extremely strong arm,” according to Elmore. Harden is more of a traditional pocket passer, while Laney is a dual threat.
“It’s about as even as it could be,” Elmore said of the QB competition. “We’ll just see as fall camp progresses. At some point, somebody will step up and take charge.”
QB was an issue for the Bobcats in 2019. Senior starter Tristan Leopold was hampered by injuries throughout the season, forcing Harden and Laney into game action several times.
“All three of (this year’s QBs) have tools that can help us throughout the season,” Elmore said. “Just because one will be the starter, the other two shouldn’t lose their concentration. Look at our season last year. You never know when you’re going to be called on.”
Offensive line is another question mark. Garrett Hoback and Paxton Maness are returning starters, but the other three positions are up for grabs. Jack Jones, J.T. Wooden, Cal Noffsinger, Dalton Warrick and Jordan Resnick are among the linemen competing for playing time.
The skill positions are more set. Senior Izik Rector will anchor the backfield after rushing for nearly 500 yards as a backup last season. Junior Derek Taylor (22 receptions, 264 yards, 1 TD) is the team’s leading returning receiver, and Silas Page, Harley Fort and Junior Edwards will also catch passes.
Senior Ryan Poole could be a difference maker on both sides of the ball. He will play tight end, H-back, defensive end and long snapper, though his most visible contributions may come in the passing game.
“He’s a big body, he can get out there and create space, and he has good hands,” Elmore said. “He knows how to find the open seams.”
Defensively, Elmore said having a third linebacker in the box will allow his team to have an odd-man front and make better use of a deep linebacking corps that includes Rector (109 tackles, six sacks), Alex Payne, Brayden Morgan, Trevor Boles and Nathan Robinson.
Maness (43 tackles, six tackles for loss), Cody Meyer and others will rotate on the defensive line, and Laney, Taylor and Kelby Steele will play in the secondary.
All-Region punter Caleb Stewart-Brown, who averages nearly 36 yards per punt, is back for his junior season. Kicker is still to be determined, while Smith, Taylor and D.J. Jackson will serve as returners.
Greenbrier was originally slated to begin its season against West Creek and Clarksville Northwest, but Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools delayed the start of contact sports until at least the beginning of September. The Bobcats will instead open at Sycamore, have a bye in Week 2 and then host Northwest on Oct. 16.
AT A GLANCE
League: Region 5-4A
Head coach: John Elmore, 5th season
Coaching record: 16-25
Assistants: Troy Bigsbee, Matthew Gallowitz, Matthew Lehnertz, Darrel Sweeney, Luke White, Bailey Young, Brady Dorris.
Overall record: 11-19
State titles: N/A
Izik Rector (LB/RB)
Derek Taylor (WR/FS)
Ryan Poole (TE/DE)
Paxton Maness (OL/DL)
Braxton Laney (SS/QB)
2019 RESULTS (2-8)
at West Creek L, 27-19
vs. Clarksville NW L, 32-7
at Creek Wood L, 45-7
vs. Portland L, 31-7
at WH Heritage W, 43-42
vs. Fairview L, 41-7
vs. Mont. Central L, 30-0
at Cheatham Co. W, 24-6
at Springfield L, 43-0
vs. White House L, 29-0
Aug. 21 at Sycamore
Sept. 4 vs. Creek Wood
Sept. 11 at Portland
Sept. 18 vs. WH Heritage
Sept. 25 at Fairview
Oct. 2 at Mont. Central
Oct. 9 vs. Cheatham Co.
Oct. 16 vs. Clarksville NW
Oct. 23 vs. Springfield
Oct. 30 at White House
*All games at 7 p.m.