By Maurice Patton
As the dean of Maury County football mentors, eighth-year Columbia Academy coach Charlie Lansdell is taking a selective amnesia approach to the 2019 campaign.
“The second part of the season is probably what I choose to think about,” Lansdell said, referring to an eventual 6-6 finish that began with five straight losses. “When you can easily fold the tents up and not be able to recover, they found a way to win on the road at Jackson Christian and that momentum kept building.
“So much of that has to do with mentality and culture – the expectation and the standard. They never let go of that, even though we took some losses in the beginning.”
That early portion of the schedule, starting with a visit to Class 4A state quarterfinalist Marshall County on Aug. 21, looms yet again for the Bulldogs.
“When you go back and re-evaluate – 4A state quarterfinalist, 5A state quarterfinalist (Shelbyville), state champion (Davidson Academy), region champion (Nashville Christian) and state runner-up (University School of Jackson) – that’s our five losses,” Lansdell said. “I feel like we’re going to have better showings in all those games. I think we’re a little bit better than where we were.”
CA certainly has experience on its side this time, as well as the late success of a six-game winning streak.
Quarterback Bryant Beranek, slot receiver Franklin Walker – who rushed for nearly 800 yards along with 241 receiving yards on just eight catches – and H-back Max Ballard were all first-year starters a year ago. They figure to do the bulk of the ballhandling this fall.
“Bryant’s going to have to be on his ‘A’ game, and I think he will be. He’s improved tremendously,” Lansdell said. “Franklin at the ‘Z’, we can bring him into the backfield as well. We can shift him around, figure out getting him the ball from a position where we can move him around pretty easily. He can be in the slot, he can be in the backfield and he can be at quarterback in the ‘wildcat’. However we can get him the ball.
“Max will be that lead blocker, that power runner, and you can get him out in open spaces and he’s got pretty good hands.”
Devon Del Carmen and/or Nathan Thomas will line up at the tailback spot, while Collins Malone, Chris Modeste and Canon Lansdell are the top three passcatching candidates for the ‘Dawgs.
Junior left tackle Miles Nixon is set to key an offensive front that will also include senior Landon Baker on the opposite end, guards Hayden Harrison and Sam Hunter and center Hunter McKnight.
Defensively, Nixon will hold down the nose guard spot with Hunter, a senior, at an end position. Harrison and senior Grahme Lewis will fill the inside linebacker roles with Malone and Ballard on the outside.
Modeste and Landon Prentice return as starters at cornerback, with Lansdell and Walker set at the safeties. Senior Will Garrison will handle the kicking duties, and will likely figure into both the secondary and the running game for CA.
The veteran coach expects last year’s opening portion of the season to serve as a cautionary tale for this edition of the Bulldogs.
“There’s a lot of value to take out of the first half,” Lansdell said. “I hope we don’t repeat that. I think within our region, we should be one of the teams that, at the end, we should be standing there with the top teams.”