After graduating 18 players from last year’s lineup, McEachern will be relying on returning experience from its semifinal appearance last season to kick-start the 2018 season. The Indians will capture the 400th victory in school history with whomever they beats next.
In 2017, McEachern opened its season with a 23-19 loss to Mill Creek in the Corky Kell Classic at Georgia State Stadium. The next week it fell to Grayson 12-7 then reeled off seven wins in a row, before falling to Hillgrove in the final game of the regular season 14-7.
Entering the playoffs, the Indians moved past Etowah 39-7 and then defeated the No. 1 team in the state, Lowndes, 36-31. Their 43-28 victory over Parkview in the quarterfinals set up a semifinal game with North Gwinnett. McEachern fell short 38-17, but the experience for its younger players last season will be paramount this year.
On the offensive side of the ball, McEachern will be looking to develop depth around key positions. In last year’s campaign, sophomore quarterback Carlos Delrio-Wilson led the Indians, and he will return this season looking to improve his numbers. Delrio-Wilson, as a freshman, started all four playoff games last year and led the charge over Lowndes in the second round.
“Our young quarterback made a pretty big impression on us and did a nice job leading and getting the victory down in Lowndes and making some plays,” said head coach Kyle Hockman. “His youth and inexperience kind of showed in the semifinals but Carlos is going to be a heck of a player so obviously we are building around that. But his mentality is ‘I know I can do it’ not ‘I think I can do it.’ So he is going into his sophomore year with the mentality of ‘I know I can do it.’ He knows he has the talent to make a run and it’s given him a lot of confidence. He leads the team, he gets the wideouts out there to throw in the offseason and all of that kind of stuff. Last year was a special time for him and it’s nice to know who your guy is going into the offseason.”
Two-time all-state running back Paris Brown will look to add to his totals this season. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound back rushed for 1,182 yards on 187 carries with 14 touchdowns in 2017. He rushed for almost 1,100 yards in 2016. He’s received offers from Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa State and Ball State, to name a few.
“Paris Brown is our bell cow at running back,” Hockman said. “But we are really excited and have some talented, strong, fast guys.”
Helping the ground game will be Jordan Simmons, a backup running back who had significant carries and special teams plays in the 2017 run.
Delrio-Wilson’s targets in 2018 will be Javon Baker, Brandon Christy and Valerian Agbaw. Baker, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound athlete, has offers from Florida, Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky and more. Christy is a 6-3, 185-pound receiver who’ll return to his starting role. Agbaw, a 5-11, 180-pounder, had a handful of big plays last season and will likely factor in more this year.
The offensive line is anchored by Nyles Moore, a 6-1, 285-pound offensive guard, Mark Bennett, a 6-0, 275-pound center and Taylor Hogan-Beck, a 6-1, 250-pound lineman.
On the defensive side, Jeffrey Clark and Jamil Burroughs are big playmakers who will impact opposing offensive lines all season. Both tackles, Clark (5-11, 275 pounds) and Burroughs (6-2, 280 pounds) will lead the defensive line. Myles Henderson, a part-time pass-rush specialist in 2017, will be back to factor in this year. Nassir Curry-Sudler adds agility to the defensive backfield and has several big offers. Stephen Benn is an emerging linebacker and a solid special-teams player. Isaiah Byrd and Nathaniel Dent will return in the defensive backfield.
“Clark and Jamil are playmakers,” Hockman said. “Jamil is a little bit bigger but Jeffrey is going to be a senior and really going to be a part. We will build around those guys. And obviously, like on offense, there are a lot of role players who will have to step in to be the player. You are always concerned to see how guys go, you know, can they handle the starting role and the limelight and can they still work hard. We will build around our D-line and we have some good secondary guys and linebackers.”
Arinze Okwu, a 5-11, 214-pound linebacker, will also factor in on the defensive side.
“He started and played a lot for us at different times of the year,” Hockman said of his senior linebacker. “But again, now he’s got to be the guy making the calls. All of the calls. And we will see how all of that develops but we are certainly excited about it.”
McEachern’s 2018 Schedule
8/18 vs. Colquitt County (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
8/24 vs. South Cobb
9/07 vs. Cedar Grove
9/14 vs. Collins Hill
9/21 at East Coweta
10/05 at Hillgrove
10/12 vs. Marietta
10/19 vs. Kennesaw Mountain
10/26 at North Cobb
11/02 vs. North Paulding