By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 2017 football season was one of the best in Munford Football history.
The team won their first playoff game in 20 years and had seven players sign college scholarships to play at the next level after a nine-win campaign. The Region 8-5A runner ups said goodbye to 26 seniors and more than a dozen starters.
Now Cougars Head Coach Nick Markle has to reload with only four returning starters and a new signal caller in Ja’Shawn Adell. Adell will be protected by some veterans names on the line and have a chance to feature 1,500 yard rusher Noah Robertson.
“We’ve been working on our toughness through this long and hot summer,” Adell said. “We don’t expect to lose anything. We expect to give everybody some great competition. We expect to win the Region championship and possibly go to State this year.
“I’ve been practicing my butt off ever since,” he continued. “Really I was quarterback last year but they needed me on defense. So I am really comfortable with the position because I’ve been playing it since my freshman year back home in Indiana. I’ve been put in the fire before. I’m very comfortable at the position.”
Nathan Davenport was the person making all the big plays from the quarterback spot last season. He had the pleasure of using weapons like Chaz Hayes, Will Hankins and Kylan Washington. But one of the driving forces of the Cougar offense in 2017 was Robertson with 21 touchdowns.
Robertson took advantage of blocking from returning offensive linemen Paul Kinnaman, Ryan Flanagan and Max Lodrigue.
“We’re just leading the way for them,” Flanagan said. “It’s all about them. We’ve got to be mean and we’ve got to get dirty. We have to make sure Noah gets his yards because that’s how we get our credit.”
The 2018 Cougar O-line will try to provide confidence building blocking for younger running backs as well. Lodrigue said the line has to come out firing Aug. 17 against rival Covington in order to give Adell an opportunity to adjust and get the flow.
“Keep your mind right and focus on your job to make sure you do it right,” the senior offensive guard said.
Lodrigue will also see time on the defensive line in 2018. That unit has to replace key players including All-State Marcus Webb. Kinnaman will also be featured on the D-line this upcoming season.
Flanagan said the experienced lineman have to work extra hard the rest of the summer and early part of the season to get the younger players on the same page.
“We can finish first,” he declared. “It’s going to take hard work and dedication.”
Adell said the teamwork Coach Markle has been preaching throughout the program should make 2018 another season for the record books.
“These three gentlemen and the rest of my line are very important,” he concluded. “They have been proving to me and even shocked me on how well they can block. I got Paul Kinnaman, Max Lodrigue and Ryan Flanagan, they have been very successful in the program at blocking good for me. I am happy to have them.”