Posted on Sunday, September 13th, 2015 at 10:56 pm.
By Justin Cannon, Chapin News Sports Editor
How good is this Chapin team? Are they ready to take their place among the great mid-70’s teams? Good enough to stand alongside 1987 and 1992? As good as the 1985 and 1995 teams that were the last teams to win multiple playoff games?
It’s really too early to make that judgement, but after winning their first four games, including a shootout with Swansea and a dominating 35-13 win on the road against Newberry, the sky seems to be the limit.
Offensively, the Eagles have so many weapons that it’s nearly impossible for opposing defensive coordinators to scheme against. What most coaches do is find the thing that an opposing offense does the best and endeavor to take it away. Or force a team to become one dimensional by taking away either the run or the pass.
Such methods cannot be employed against the Eagles this year. Quarterback Logan Bailey spreads the ball around his outstanding corps of receivers: Kale Rhame, Joseph Flowers, Evan Estridge, and USC commit Will “Cash” Register.
Each of these are legitimate deep threats as well as excellent route runners and outstanding blockers. Is there a way to cover all of them? Not hardly. Even if a team had the talent and the scheme to reduce the success of the passing game, they would not be able to spare a defender to “spy” Bailey. In that situation, the athletic quarterback would surely make the defense pay by gashing them on the ground.
Some may question the Eagle defense after giving up video game type numbers to Swansea in a 63-60 overtime win. A deeper look at the Swansea game may provide an answer. Firstly, give credit where it’s due: Swansea quarterback Chance Walker is a high caliber athlete and his offensive line is big and strong. Walker has put up big numbers in all of his games; containing him isn’t easy. Secondly, big time contributors missed action against the Tigers.
Defensive lineman Khari Suber, who has been wreaking havoc in offensive backfields this season, was ruled out of the Swansea game due to injury. Garrett Reinhart, defensive leader and hard hitter, missed the second half with an ankle injury.
Reinhart’s aggressiveness is contagious: when he entered the game against Newberry he promptly started tracking down Bulldog quarterback (and Georgia Southern commit) Yafari Werts. His presence in the game raised the level of play of the defense as a unit. Nick Price and Caleb White anchor the secondary, a unit that rarely lets open receivers get behind them. The defense is very good; depth may be the only issue with that side of the ball.
As far as the intangibles, Chapin is doing well in that department as well. Coach Gentry talks about “Chapin Grit”, and that’s no cheesy catchphrase. Gentry has gotten his players to buy in to the concept of hard work and giving maximum effort on every play. They pick each other up, not letting anyone give up or stay down.
Every time this team has been challenged, they have answered the bell. It would have been easy to give up after blowing a halftime lead against Swansea. It would have been easy to look at Newberry’s big guys up front and their Division I commitment quarterback and be intimidated. That’s not going to happen with this team. Coach Gentry does an excellent job of keeping this team grounded, taking the season one game at a time, and not getting over confident.
It’s way too early to start conjecturing this team’s place in Chapin lore. The 2009 team started 7-0 but injuries took their toll and the Eagles stumbled to a 7-4 finish. This team has unlimited potential if it can stay healthy and keep the right attitude.
On paper at least, the Newberry Bulldogs and this week’s opponent, the Brookland-Cayce Bearcats, appear to be the best teams that are on the Eagles’ schedule.
While it’s usually best not to look ahead, it seems that a healthy Chapin team is poised for a deep playoff run. Then, and only then, can we discuss their legacy.