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With 32 players, MHS varsity looks to improve

by Larry S. Chowning

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The Middlesex High School varsity football season gets under way this Friday, September 5, at 7 p.m. at Mathews High School. Pictured above are head coach Heath Cockerham with three of his starting seniors. Front, from left, are Coach Cockerham and Brett Chodorov; back row, Nigel Rich and Michael Eades. Eades is out for the year with a knee injury.  (Photo by Larry Chowning)
The Middlesex High School football team is coming off a rough 2007 season when it won only one game, but head coach Heath Cockerham is hopeful a better year awaits in 2008.

The Chargers open Friday night at 7 p.m. at Mathews in a non-district game. The two teams will play again in November at Middlesex and that game will count in the Tidewater District standings.

“It’s been an outstanding summer camp,” said Coach Cockerham.  “We are encouraged that so many kids want to play football.”
The varsity team has 32 players on the roster.

The Chargers return only two starters on offensive and two starters on defense from a year ago.

Wingback Malcolm Ward (5’11”, 175 lbs.) was a team leader last year and big things are expected of the speedy senior this fall. Ward was second on the team in rushing last year with 400 yards and was the Chargers’ top receiver. 

Sophomore Chuck Morris (5’9”, 170 lbs.) will be calling the signals at quarterback. Morris has quarterbacked the MHS JV team the last two seasons. “He has run our style of offense the last two years on junior varsity so he knows the offense,” said Cockerham.

Sophomore Kris Baylor (5’9”, 170 lbs.) will be the back-up quarterback.

Junior Ronnie Watkins (5’8”, 175 lbs.) will join Ward in the backfield at the other wingback position.

Others wingbacks include sophomore Sean Lee (5’7”, 140 lbs.), junior Marcus Hammonds (5’10”, 195 lbs.), sophomore Jeremy Rich (5’11”, 155 lbs.), junior Willie Holmes (5’10”, 182 lbs.) and Baylor.  “Middlesex is known for its speed and we have speed on this team too,” said Cockerham.

The Chargers have lost senior tight end Michael Eades, one of the team’s best receivers, to a knee injury. Cockerham said he is considering going to two split ends to try and make up for the loss of Eades, who was injured in pre-season drills.

Junior Matt Duke (6’2”, 165 lbs.), Baylor, junior Davon Bryant (5’7”, 160 lbs.), junior Bradley Lee (5’10”, 160 lbs.), sophomore John Walsh (5’9”, 135 lbs.) and sophomore Kevin Walsh (5’8”, 138 lbs.) will see action at the split end position. 

If the Chargers utilize an offensive tight end, it will be either senior Brett Chodorov (5’11”, 215 lbs.) or junior Tayvon Morning 6’5”, 310 lbs.).

The Chargers will have only one returning offensive lineman, junior Scott Payne (6’2”, 220 lbs.), who has started since he was a freshman and is one of the top linemen in the district.

The other offensive starting linemen are center junior Corey Keeling (5’8”, 210 lbs.), junior guard Jake Pender (5’8”, 165 lbs.), junior tackle Ryan Burton (6’3”, 230 lbs.) and junior Brandon Eanes (6’2”, 235 lbs.). Others playing on the line are sophomore Jay Bryant (5’7”, 255 lbs.), junior Craig Connely (5’10”, 190 lbs.) and junior Bryan Engle (6’2”, 235 lbs.).

Other than Payne, most of the linemen played together on junior varsity for two years.  “They know our program and are doing fine,” said Cockerham.

The Chargers’ defensive line will include Engle at nose guard and Morning and Chodorov at the tackles. The linebackers are Bundy in the middle with senior Nigel Rich (6’2”, 195 lbs.) and Connely on the outside.

Baylor will play the safety position while junior Dale Smith (5’9”, 170 lbs.) and Jeremy Rich will start at the cornerback spots. The “pony” position on defense will be filled by Payne or Duke, with Ward at the rover spot.

Chodorov will do the place kicking and some of the punting.  Hammonds will also punt.

Others on the 2008 roster are sophomore Avery Bundy (5’1”, 200 lbs.) flankerback and linebacker; junior Terrence Burse (5’7”, 135 lbs.) wingback and defensive back; senior Lamar Keyser (5’9”, 310 lbs.) and junior Lee Major (5’10”, 190 lbs.) offensive and defensive lineman; and sophomore Joseph Banks (5’9”, 170 lbs.) split end and defensive back.

“We have a young team but we have set our goals high and I think we will be successful,” said Cockerham. “I certainly see a better season than last year.”

This is Cockerham’s third year as head coach and he has an overall record of 9-12. His assistant coaches are Draper Washington, Lee Anderson and Aaron Gray.

posted 09.04.2008

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