Carroll County’s first year in the River Ridge District was a learning experience to say the least. The Cavaliers failed to win any district matchups and finished 2-8 overall.
That experience, however, hasn’t dampened the team’s desire to compete in what is one of the state’s toughest districts, according to new head coach Eddie Sloss.
“I don’t see a defeated mentality,” said Sloss. “This summer, seventeen of 20 kids made the lifts that were required and coaches volunteered their time to better prepare the kids. They don’t seem defeated. They’re looking at this as we’re as good as any team in the district.”
“We have 76 kids in the program, so that tells me there’s still plenty of interest. I would be worried if I had to fill out the varsity with ninth and tenth graders, but everyone who was on the varsity last year, who didn’t graduate, is back on the varsity this year,” he added.
There will be no freshman on the varsity this season and sophomores who are back-ups on the varsity squad will play in the jayvee games on Thursday night.
“I want every kid to get a chance to play and experience some success,” said Sloss.
Last year, many of the Cavaliers’ better players saw action both offensively and defensively on a regular basis, but Sloss hopes to lessen the numbers of players going both ways.
“We’re going to try and create some depth. We need some of the younger kids to step up and be able to take over positions,” said Sloss. “Of course, that’s a two-edged sword. You have to weigh whether the kid you’re putting in that position is going to be better than someone who is exhausted from playing both ways.”
“We have to identify the kids who can help us and put them in a position to succeed. What we’re trying to do is put kids in a position to be successful. When we put a kid at a position, we want him to know what to do, not think what I am supposed to do.”
Last year, the Cavaliers proved they could put points on the board. This year, there are some question marks. The positive is that the entire offensive line returns, but the negative is that “zero skill players return from last year’s team,” according to Sloss, who has implemented a “pistol offense” this season.
However, he added, “At this point, we feel like we have guys who can step in and be as successful.”
The quarterback position, manned last year by record-setter Connor Lundy, is presently up for grabs between Winston Giles, last year’s backup, and Chase Robinson. Chanz Quesenberry has secured the fullback slot, Dylan Stiltner is solid at runningback and Trace Davis will be one of the wideouts. Other positions are undetermined.
Defensively, the Cavaliers struggled a year ago, so that is a major concern this season.
“No matter how good you offense is, at the end of the day you have to be able to stop somebody,” said Sloss, who has a good one in Quesenberry, who will man one of the linebacker positions.
“He has a great motor, size, speed, smarts and work ethic. He’ll definitely do whatever it is you want him to do.”
Austin Wolford is set at linebacker, Davis will be at one of the corners, and Jared Haga, Jacob Adams and Garrett Burcham will be key linemen.
Perhaps the thing that has impressed Sloss most is the dedication to the team that his players have shown.
“I asked one kid who was maybe our fourth or fifth running option back to change position to help the team and give him a chance for playing time. He said, coach, ‘I will do whatever you want me to do.’ I thought that was pretty cool. We have another kid, who made a spectacular catch in the 7-on-7 competition this summer and I asked him to move from tight end to tackle, and he said the same thing. This shows me that the kids are all about team.”