By SAM McGAW
After a disappointing finish to their 2017 campaign, the Brentwood Bruins enter this season with several voids to fill on both sides of the ball.
Brentwood must replace 36 seniors from last year’s 10-2 squad that lost to Class 6A state runner-up Cane Ridge in the second round.
“That’s the biggest number I’ve ever had [to replace] in my coaching career as an assistant or head coach,” Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford said at the Williamson County Schools Sports Conference Football Media Day. “These 25 seniors we have this year have all been a part of our program, have all seen growth since we got back and have been a big part of growing (the program) since we got back.”
Senior Dylan Stevens and sophomore Cade Granzow are competing to replace two-year starter Carson Shacklett at quarterback.
Shacklett accounted for 2,385 passing yards, 300 rushing yards, 31 touchdowns (6 run) and six interceptions last season.
“Dylan has really changed his body and worked himself into having a chance to earn that position,” Crawford said. “(Granzow) looks the part at 6-2, 190 pounds, but he’s a sophomore.”
No matter who wins the battle, they’ll have plenty of firepower surrounding them.
“We will have the ability to stretch the field vertically and horizontally because of the tools we have (at receiver),” Crawford said. “It creates some matchup problems. Hopefully, it will create running lanes inside for our running backs.
“We hope to put the defense in a dilemma.”
Wide receivers Avery Williams and Chayce Bishop are explosive options in Brentwood’s spread attack.
Williams caught 20 passes for 256 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, while Bishop had 16 receptions for 348 yards and six scores.
Bishop has scholarship offers from Ball State, Northwestern, Tulane and Vanderbilt.
Sophomore Walker Merrill will also make an impact in the receiving corps. He’s fielding offers from Louisville and Vanderbilt.
Carter McKechnie, who played running back last season, is expected to see more time at receiver this year. He racked up 693 rushing yards, 283 receiving yards and nine scores last season.
With McKechnie working outside, senior Jordan Nicholas will see more reps in the backfield. He rushed for 564 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017.
Up front, the Bruins welcome back guard Hunter Harrison and center Charlie Hardin. Clay McCarty will make the switch from defense to play offensive tackle.
The Bruins face a lot of uncertainty on defense, as they must replace 14 of their top 15 tacklers from last season.
Defensive end Tank Starr looks to be one of the unit’s top players in 2018.
“Not only are we rebuilding the defense, but we feel we have some talented kids over there,” Crawford said.
Brentwood allowed only 14.5 points per game last season.