How does Houston Thiel replace a stacked senior class that has moved on?
It is a question, I would argue that started getting asked halfway through last year.
When Andrew Bruce, Michael Harris, and Jacob Stephens sat distraught on the 20-yard line.
Stephens had gotten hurt at halftime, and the Red Hawks had suffered a debilitating fifth straight loss.
They would suffer a sixth the next week without Stephens under center at Greenbrier.
It was at that point, that you began to consider what had to happen next.
Sure several guys obviously played other sports, but it was evident the sheer loss set to be suffered on the Gridiron.
A year ago at this time, Creek Wood was coming off a second-round playoff appearance.
They had lost pieces but felt as if they already had viable replacements.
Lose Elijah Donaldson? Jacob Stephens is ready and raring to go.
Brandon Porter has moved on? Jamison Ford is set up for success.
No more DJ Riley or Raekwon Nesbitt? No problem, we have Ford and Stephens for the secondary help, and strength at LB to supplement with.
The one concern was the new region, it proved costly.
That being said we are here to discuss replacing talent.
Getting back to winning comes later.
Simply put, it is irreplaceable.
Having guys like Bruce, Harris, Stephens, and Porter Matlock all leave in one swoop is impossible to weather on one offseason.
That is three starting caliber LB’s and a starting DB.
That is a senior class that went 26-9 in their first three years with two second-round playoff appearances. Lost just 5 region games in those three years.
Their senior year was marred by injury and a region shift that felt unfair for such a talented group.
That being said now the page turns.
Honestly, we don’t know where the replacements come from.
Sure, this team still has some dudes.
Jamison Ford is back and now has two full years under his belt.
Sam England anchors the O-Line and holds down the LB position.
Alex Bradshaw showed flashes of pure athleticism last year against, albeit, lesser competition.
Ethan Donaldson also stepped up when Stephens went down and proved he can be just like his brother.
However, each of them carries the flip side of their respective coin.
Ford has not shown consistency when there is not a clear number two WR behind him.
England was bolstered defensively by playing alongside Bruce, Harris, and Matlock. He is alone now.
Bradshaw seemed to disappear against bigger opponents.
Donaldson has all of the athletic ability, but his arm has to improve as a QB.
None of that can happen if the Red Hawks hope to replace what they lost.
Also worth noting, there will be others.
There always are.
A few young men will step up.
However, stepping up against the Hillwood, Glencliff, and even Fairviews of the world is one thing.
Can they find talent that plays at its best against Montgomery Central and Pearl Cohn?
Two teams who were eliminated by the eventual state champ, who also resides in this region; Tullahoma.
Only time will tell but I know this, Head Coach Houston Thiel and his staff are not going to just lay down.
They will have something, someone, some whatever, up their sleeves.