CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two years removed from a NCISAA 3A title, Charlotte Christian High School is mixing things up after a sub-par 6-5 finish last fall. A new quarterback, offensive system, and mindset all will make it a different year for the Knights.
“Were in a different place,” said fifth year head coach Jason Estep. “We did not have a quarterback last year. We converted a kid who was an athlete.”
Simms McElfresh had the tough task of playing under center. McElfresh, now at Appalachian State, was one of four Knights seniors to commit to play college ball, joining Kyler Brown (Duke), wide out Matthias Farley (Notre Dame) and Garrett Huneycutt (Campbell).
“We had a couple of games we let slip through our fingers,” Estep said. “We were either young at a position or we were inexperienced at a position.”
The Knights won four of their first five games, but inexperience and injuries wore the squad down.
Estep hopes that won’t be the case in 2011, but CCHS will still have fresh faces on both sides of the ball.
Two underclassmen are battling for the starting spot at quarterback. Junior Eric Lynch played the last five games for the Knights last year. At 6-3, 170 pounds, Lynch has a bigger arm than sophomore Bo Hines, who is also competing for the spot. But Hines brings a bit more athleticism to the position and can makes guys miss, Estep said.
“I would like to have just one guy to do the job,” Estep said. “They are both talented enough to do the job.”
Two starting offensive linemen are back, and 6-5 sophomore Jeb Blazevich is already a game-changing threat after starting as a freshman. Blazevich has been to camps at Clemson, Auburn and Duke this summer, and is poised to be a big-time prospect.
Blazevich’s skill set has Estep more at ease with an offensive change. The Knights will be under center and plan to use play action and boot leg throughout the year, hoping Blazevich gets one-on-one coverage regularly.
Junior cornerback Dez Lawrence leads a defense that returns four starters. Lawrence picked up a scholarship offer from South Carolina recently, and Estep expects more colleges will show interest, too.
With defending NCISAA 3A champion Charlotte Country Day, Charlotte Latin, and Providence in the Knight’s CISAA league, Estep knows his schedule doesn’t have any breaks.
“My guess is…Providence Day and Country Day are the frontrunners,” Estep said. “Country Day returns five guys up front, and they are usually pretty good up front every year.”
The Knights play six of their 10 regular season games at home, opening with a contest against Franklin H.S. CCHS beat Franklin last fall. Then it’s back-to-back road battles against First Assembly and Liberty Christian for two more non-conference games.
“The first three games could be a wakeup call for us,” Estep said. “We’re going to have to see how our young guys respond to that. It’s a test right off the bat.”
8/26 @ First Assembly
9/2 @ Liberty Christian
9/9 Victory Christian
9/16 AFC Rangers
9/30 @ Charlotte Latin
10/7 Carolina Pride (Homecoming)
10/14 Charlotte Country Day
10/21 @ Ravenscroft
10/28 Providence Day (Senior Night)