The growth and maturity process of the Cornerstone Christian Academy football players parallels that of the program, according to head coach Bobby Johnson.
Last year was only the second varsity season for the Crusaders, who finished 6-6 and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs for the second year in a row in the Texas Christian Athletic League. The Crusaders were district runner-up to Stephenville Faith the past two years, but have moved to the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship.
After making great strides in maturity and physical strength – along with soaking up fundamentals – Johnson expects the Crusaders to be ready to focus more on more advanced topics.
“That’s very exciting for me as a coach,” Johnson said, noting that hard work in the weight room should address some of last year’s weaknesses such as slipped tackles on defense.
“One of the positives of the program is that our boys are very committed. They lead each other, and they are working very hard themselves to get better at what they do.”
Having made those improvements, the current squad is “by far the best team we’ve had so far,” Johnson said.
Among the 24 players this season there are 10 returning lettermen, including five seniors. Last year’s graduating class included first-team all-district wide receiver Jonathan Delzeit and second-team all-district running back Joseph Deskin.
Like last year, speed is still a strength. But Johnson is hoping that the overall improved size and strength will enable the Crusaders to grind out a running attack up the middle when needed to avoid being a one-dimensional spread offense.
“We will be a fast team, and this year we have some size with it, too,” Johnson said. “We’ve been lifting weights aggressively for a year.”
Generally, the starting unit on offense will include four juniors and two seniors but Johnson noted, “every position is wide open. If you work hard for me, I will find a way to get you in the game.”
The starters in the conventional tight set are likely to include all-state quarterback Forrest Copenhaver, a 5-11, 175-pound junior who saw significant playing time last year; lineman/fullback Peter Dowd, a 6-0, 260-pound senior who transferred from Granbury High School; all-state spread back/receiver Brendan Brawley, a 6-3, 190-pound junior who also is a former GHS player; tailback/receiver Josh Beaird, a 5-10, 170-pound junior; fullback Logan Weems, a 5-11, 200-pound junior who was an all-district center last season; and center Mike Marcel, a 5-11, 190-pound junior.
In the spread offense, Jared Rudd and Zach Olson, a pair of 5-10, 170-pound junior wideouts, will be called upon.
“We’ll run a lot of pass-run option,” Johnson said. “Out of the spread we’ll probably be 50-50 on running and passing.”
Likely defensive starters to begin the season include Dylan Overstreet, a 6-0, 175-pound junior, and Brawley at outside linebacker; Weems at middle linebacker; Dowd at noseguard; and Beaird and Copenhaver at the two safety spots.
Johnson said the Crusaders used the 3-2-1 and 2-2-2 defenses last season, but have switched to the 3-3.
“I think it fits what we have, in speed,” Johnson said. “The 3-3 is designed to put the quarterback under duress.”
Weems is expected to handle the kicking chores, while Brawley will be counted on as the punter.
The new district includes Nazarene Christian Academy of Crowley, plus Odessa Latter Rain and Fort Worth Hill School.
“Nazarene is definitely the one to beat,” Johnson said. “They beat us last year at the buzzer (in non-district). It’s a good rivalry.”
Johnson said he is emphasizing the concept of respect this year.
“Respect yourself and be the best you can be,” he said. “I feel like that’s what men need to learn. That makes them into good citizens.”
As for the schedule, the Crusaders are facing challenges early. They have a home game against public school Sidney in the second week, another at public school Lingleville in the fourth week, and sandwiched in between is a trip to two-time defending TCAF state champion Azle Christian.
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Date Opponent Time
Aug. 30 Decatur Home School 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6 Sidney 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Azle Christian TBD
Sept. 20 at Lingleville TBD
Sept. 27 at Brazos Christian TBD
Oct. 4 at Cleburne Christian TBD
Oct. 11 Waco Parkview 7:30 p.m.
*Oct. 18 at FW Hill School TBD
Oct. 25 at Odessa Latter Rain TBD
*Nov. 1 FW Nazarene 7:30 p.m.
* = TCAF Six-Man Division III District 4 game