With five trips to the state championship game in 14 seasons, Carvers Bay coach Nate Thompson has found a successful trick to get back to the final weekend of the season.
“We’ve been lucky enough that we’ve had some good runs with some good kids,” Thompson said. “We’ve learned that you’ve got to let them go.”
The only coach the school has even known is prepared to follow his own advice.
A season after the Bears made a playoff run that ended against Christ Church in the Class A, Division I finals, Carvers Bay’s roster is full of plenty of new players who were either lightly used or new to the program altogether. Gone are the likes of running back Devin Cuttino (1,331 yards, 22 touchdowns) and Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas selection Naquez Pringle (92 tackles, six sacks).
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The rest of Class A isn’t going to feel too sorry for the Bears, if for no other reason that few expect Thompson’s bunch to ever have much of an off year. The team has had just two seasons with losing records, the same number of state titles the school has in its short history.
As for the “new guard,” as Thompson puts it, he’s still tinkering with exactly what he’ll have to work with. The team’s overall numbers aren’t bad; in fact, his early totals were among his best seasons.
But where he fits all those bodies is up for continued debate among the coaching staff. In short, there are more questions than answers.
One of the few things Thompson does know is that he’ll again have a stable of running backs at his disposal. Terry Bromell, Aaron Cochran and Calvin Miller will all share carries.
“We try not to get locked into one back,” Thompson said. “We’ve had kids go down and didn’t have someone to go to.”
Last season, it was Cuttino who did the most damage, and Thompson believes Bromell could step into that big-play role this season. Regardless if it’s one or three, though, it should allow returning starting quarterback Israel Davis to be more effective.
He helped Carvers Bay to last year’s region and playoff run with 700 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns. Davis will also have the help of three returning linemen and a returning tight end, as well as starting receiver Brandon Young.
Defensively, there is much less experience.
“This is our rebuilding year,” he said. “When you have so many seniors and have a run like this, you know your backups aren’t that great or that you’ll have that many backups. You have to experiment with them and try a lot of different positions.
“We’re just trying to find some starters. We’ve got a lot of holes. We’ve got to find some people who can play.”