Craig Chessher and Stony Point are starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
The Tigers have missed out on the playoffs for the last two seasons, but with a good group of returning players and depth in some key areas, this might be the year Stony Points makes it back to the postseason.
“It’s always good when guys get the speed level experience,” Chessher said. “No question that we’ll have more confidence. You’re playing as a younger kid because you know you can do it. You’ve been through it and taken some lumps, but you know you can do it. I think we have that experience.”
The Tigers’ offense, at least at the skill positions, looks largely the same. Kyle Overton and Jackson Tingler, while very different types of quarterbacks, will continue to stare time under center.
Kendal Thomas was starting to shine his sophomore year before hurting his knee and racked up more than 500 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior as the second back in the run-heavy system.
The top three receivers in the Tigers’ offense are gone, but Chessher said 6-foot-4 receiver Andre Woods would be a big weapon to throw to. Wood caught five passes for 56 yards in five games last season.
He said the Tigers have always had a smaller offensive line and have been forced to throw on 3rd down, but this year might be a little different.
“It’s so much better to know that when it’s 3rd and 2 that we can get that first down,” Chessher said. “I don’t want to overstate our guys, but we have the ability to say we can gain some yards on a regular basis.”
The Stony Point offense wasn’t very consistent last year. They finished seventh in the district, scoring an average of 22.75 points per game. One game, against Hendrickson, they would have 50 yards and then against their next opponent, they’d have a breakout offensive game.
Gone are those inconsistent days for Stony Point.
“We’re going to be more consistent on offense and it’ll be a higher level,” Chessher said. “I’ve been a very typical as a football coach to fall in love with my team in the spring. We like being the underdog. Our kids know that. Believe me, you’ll have to play four quarters to beat us.”
While the offense has ebbed and flowed, the defense has been largely consistent. The Tigers finished third in total defense last year and figure to continue to be a good run-stopping team.
Joseph Barajas was named to the All-District second team and leads the defensive line. Brian Lucero is a sophomore on the defensive line with Kylen Woodley and Travaughn Martin coming off the ends.
Tim Landry was a first-team All-District player as a defensive end and will be moving to linebacker for Stony Point this season.
The expectations are the same as just about every other team in the area: compete for a district title and playoff spot. Although, Chessher said the Tigers have never beaten Cedar Ridge and they’d like to do that.
“Kids react well,” he said. “We’re excited about the season. We have a good sense of unity.”