No one is more aware of the big football shoes to be filled at Christ Presbyterian Academy than Nolan Genovese.
The fiery Genovese will step onto center stage Aug. 20 when the Lions host Kentucky powerhouse Ft. Campbell in their opening game when he will officially succeed Lion passing whiz Luke Roman.
“Luke was an awesome quarterback,” Genovese said just before a scrimmage with Kenwood last week. “He passed for 2,000 yards, a pretty amazing senior season.”
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior was a backup to Roman last year for the Lions, who went 3-7 and missed the playoffs. Roman passed for 2,250 yards and 17 touchdowns.
It is not only Genovese’s strong arm but also his charismatic, emotional leadership that the Lions hope will carry them far this season.
“Definitely, I’m trying to contribute in the area of leadership, as well as using my skills which I bring to the position,” Genovese, who played mostly receiver last year, said.
“I have some truly outstanding receivers, guys like Sam Cranford, Nolan Kemp, along with someone like tight end Britton Woodall, a DI prospect.
“All things considered, I think we’ve a got a great chance to succeed this season.”
“Nolan had a great off-season,” said coach Jay Mathews. “He’s worked hard and he brings a great deal of inspiration and emotional leadership to our team. He’s very much a leader, kind of like a linebacker playing quarterback.”
Brutal opening schedule
Mathews took note of the Lions’ first two games against Kentucky powers Ft. Campbell (a team they lost to 55-26 last year) and Lexington Christian.
Last season, with a similarly challenging schedule, CPA opened 0-3.
“That (ambitious scheduling) took place well before I got here,” Mathews said. “I feel that it’s in our interest to play the really good teams, because you are better off for it down the road. If you play a weak schedule, then you face someone really good in the opening round of the playoffs, you’re not ready for it.”
Asked to preview his region, Mathews said, “Everyone’s good, but one team I think you better look out for is Pearl-Cohn. They had a whole lot of underclassmen last year who are going to have a lot of experience this season, and coach (Tony) Brunetti does an excellent job with them. In my opinion, they will be one of the favorites.’’
• Ensworth uses three QBs: Ensworth used three quarterbacks on Friday in a 17-3 scrimmage victory over Hillsboro.
Wirth Campbell, Drew Parker and all-around athlete Corn Elder all took snaps. Wirth might have the edge starting the season, but all three had good moments against the Burros.
“There are times I will holler out – first offense, get out there. Whichever quarterback runs out there with them is the one I’ll probably use,” coach Ricky Bowers said laughing, “because he’s the one who expects to be out there.”
Whoever it is will succeed last year’s standout, Cody Tollison.
Ensworth and Hillsboro traded field goals for a 3-3 halftime tie, then Nantambu Fentress, the heir apparent to replace 2,000-yard rusher Orleans Darkwa, scored the go-ahead touchdown for Ensworth. Later, the Tigers scored after an interception by defensive back Justin Lloyd.
Hillsboro had some good moments.
Senior Amiri Hawkins, the star of the Burros’ championship run in the Tennessee Tech 7-on-7 camp, sparked the offense. He had some good passing and running plays. He had two passes dropped, including a sure TD in the first half.
Lightning-fast Tez Vestal looked ready to lead the Burros rushing attack.
Ensworth’s field looked in remarkable shape, considering the floods had risen about halfway up the goal posts just three short months before.
“It’s in great shape, they did a wonderful job of getting the field back, ready for play,” Bowers said. “We’re very blessed.”
• Ingle Martin new Ensworth coach: Bowers has a familiar face with him on the sidelines – his former all-state quarterback Ingle Martin, who led MBA to three straight DII state titles under Bowers (1998-99-00) during which time the Big Red was 34-2.
Martin, a standout college player at Furman who later player in the NFL, will coach quarterbacks, of course.
“Needless to say, we’re pretty happy to have him on board,” Bowers said. “He knows a thing or two about the position.”
There will be plenty of energy and emotion when MBA visits Ensworth Sept. 3.
• Pearl-Cohn star to Duke: Brunetti has announced that Firebird wide receiver Nick Hill has committed to play at Duke.
Brunetti said the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Hill had an outstanding summer camp to earn the offer with the Blue Devils. He will join Brentwood lineman Lucas Patrick and former Overton High defensive end Dezmond Johnson, who is an incoming freshman at Duke. Hill caught 27 passes last season.
Standout Firebird defensive back Senquay Eichelberger is also getting a strong look from several SEC schools, including Vanderbilt.
• Metro Jamboree: Pearl-Cohn will host the first of the three nights of the 42nd annual Metro football jamboree this week.
On Thursday, starting at 7 p.m. the Firebirds will take on Hunters Lane, followed by Maplewood vs. Glencliff.
On Friday, Hillsboro, which beat Overton on a last-second field goal 3-0 in last year’s jamboree, will play the Bobcats in their two-quarter segment at Overton at 6 p.m. That matchup will be followed by Hillwood vs. Lipscomb, then Cane Ridge vs. East Lit.
McGavock hosts the final segment Saturday, starting at 7 p.m., where it’s the host Raiders vs. Whites Creek, followed by Antioch vs. Stratford.
No fewer than six men will make their head coaching debuts with new schools at the Jamboree. They include, Hunters Lane: Terry Hemontolar; Maplewood: Arcentae Broome; Hillwood: Bubba Spears; East Lit: Jim Wilson; McGavock (Jay Gore) and Whites Creek (Mose Phillips).