NEWPORT—With time comes change.
Cocke County High School’s football program has seen very much change in the last month and moving forward. Not only have they changed leadership at the head coaching position with new hire Scotty Dykes — former Hardin Valley offensive coordinator — but the change in leadership from players, too.
The Fighting Cocks lost 15 seniors from last season due to graduation. Some of those names playing a primary leadership roll on their respective side of the ball. Those names include Jarren Ensley, Levi Daniels, Carson Nichols, Mckayne Ramsey, and many more.
Each senior from the 2018 football season had a vital contribution to the 7-4 overall season record under then head coach Caleb Slover.
“It can be hard,” CCHS assistant coach Casey Ragan said. “Any time you have a coaching change after a successful season can be difficult. Our main goal was to just get the kids to practice the fundamentals and have fun with it. We have had tremendous interest with this group.”
The seniors are now gone and Slover is now the head coach for Region 1-5A rival Morristown East. This means the spring football period was a time to scout out new leadership.
Though he’ll have full command of the team during the summer and preseason leading up to the 2019 kickoff, Dykes has not been able to work with the team in practice just yet. Instead, interim coach Matthew Morris has been the man calling shots in spring and he has seen a number of leaders produced through the past few weeks.
One of the names is senior quarterback Tyler Venerable.
“Venerable will be one of those leaders we will see make plays for us,” Morris said. “We have seen a lot of leadership shown from a lot of players. It all starts with our quarterback. I think he’s ready for it once it comes game time.”
Morris has challenged Venerable during the spring football period to become the leader of this football program while out on the field. Though Venerable’s presence will be missed on the defensive side, he is trusted to call the shots under center.
He’s proven to all of his coaches he is ready to take on the responsibilities that come with the leadership role.
Behind Venerable is senior tailback Lundon Shelton someone who saw the ball in their hands many times in the 2018 season, leading CCHS in rushing totals during the team’s push to the playoffs.
“Shelton will step in and make some big plays for us,” Morris said. “One thing that excites me about Shelton is he is one of those kids that comes to work every day. He likes the challenge to improve.”
Shelton is a player who has improved each season and wants the challenges that come with being the leader. He leads by example every practice, as even in his junior season he led by example in each game.
With those two in control of the ball more than not, on the offensive and defensive line is Bryson Chaisson.
The line is one aspect that CCHS did not lose much of and Chaisson has shown he can lead those who are beside him every snap.
“Our line is somewhere we have a lot of depth at,” Morris said. “Chaisson is one that stands out. He doesn’t say too much during practices or games, but he is one of those kids that comes and leads by example.”
Once Dykes rolls into his primary position as head coach, he will be able to test this group of leaders his own way, and won’t be likely to be disappointed.
The Fighting Cocks now transition into the offseason but will expect the same attitude and character from Venerable, Shelton, Chaisson, and more once the group’s small break concludes.
This change with time has certainly had a positive impact for the CCHS football program.