Last year, the Greenbrier East Spartans had one of the better offensive teams in the last decade at the school.
They racked up 43.8 points per game and scored at least 35 points in every game, except the season finale against Princeton. They averaged 422 total yards and 328 on the ground.
Basically, the Spartans were an offensive juggernaut.
To have that same success this season, East will have to replenish numbers without a few graduated seniors that played pivotal roles last year.
Colby Piner—1,000-yard rusher, first team all-state, Fulton Walker award winner—is the biggest loss on the offensive side of the football. He was a threat to score every time he touched the ball and consistently put pressure on opposing defenses. Nate Baker played multiple positions and was one of the better blockers in the area, Quentin Wilson was a second team all-state pick that was second on the team in rushing yards, Christian McNeely was second in catches and Grant Hall was a two-year starter on the offensive line.
However, head coach Ray Lee thinks his 2021 roster is up to the task of moving forward and continuing the offensive show that the Spartan fans have become accustomed to.
“What we lost last year is tough to replace. We had guys who were very dependable and experienced. We could line Nate up anywhere in the backfield and along with Quentin and Colby, no one knew where or what we were going to do. However, I am very pleased with our skill guys we have now. Each one gets better every day and each one offers their own individual flair to what we are trying to accomplish,” Lee said.
A good offense starts up front and fortunately for the Spartans, one of the best linemen in the state suits up for the green and gold.
Jacob Wickline is a three-year starter and has multiple Division 1 scholarship offers and even more interest from other D-1 schools also. The 6-foot-five-inch senior right guard will anchor that unit. Left tackle Landon Hayes is a two-year starter that brings enormous potential and left guard JT Spencer has started since he was a freshman and is as impressive on both sides of the ball as you are going to see. Right tackle Seth Fogus will be the other starter in his first year. Garrett Bennett and Garon Wiseman will be available to provide depth as well.
“Our offensive line is very experienced and very physical. These guys are going to have to carry us throughout the season. We are happy with where they are mentally and physically right now and look forward to using their speed and size to our advantage,” Lee stated.
Monquelle Davis is back for his third season at quarterback. As a sophomore last season, Davis threw for 770 yards and 10 touchdowns, and rushed for 682 yards and nine more touchdowns. Davis is an electric player, but it’s his leadership that has gotten gradually better each year that has caught Coach Lee’s eye.
“Monquelle has a ton of experience under his belt taking snaps for three years, while also lining up at receiver at times, which throws teams off. Monquelle has turned into a great leader for our offense and has a great football mind,” Lee said.
Davis will turn and handoff a lot to Ian Cline (SO) this season and when he decides to pass, will have a plethora of options there as well with Bryson Ormsbee (SR), Lucas McCallister (JR) and Ethan Holliday (SO) ready to step in and catch balls.
Cline is a speedster that had a 50-yard run in last weeks scrimmage and another big gainer on the third possession too. McCallister had a couple big gains as well.
Braden Bragg will be the tight end and has taken a solid grasp on that spot.
“Our receiving corps is very talented and speedy. Each one of those guys can stretch the field on any given play. Cline has the ability to really change the game on any carry. He has plenty of game experience having started on defense last season as a freshman. We are extremely excited to see what he can do behind our guys up front,” Lee said.
“Bragg has also been a very pleasant surprise taking over the TE spot. He has the ability to run our short routes with good technique and is very dependable on his receptions,” the coach concluded.
Gavin Bennett, Jarrett McHale, Craig Barnhouse and Levi Wagner are other players who will see the field on offense.