Daleville returns only a handful of players with starting experience – and many of those are still very young – and the majority of players that find themselves playing on Fridays this season will be either freshmen or sophomores. Many of those players were also thrown in the fire last season and head coach Will Garner hopes that experience – along with an offseason in the weight room and on the field – will help this young team grow up quickly.
Chris Page, So., Center: Page was forced to start as a freshman at one of the most difficult positions on either side of the line of scrimmage last season and his return to the lineup will add some valuable experience there.
“Chris has helped make us so much better this year,” Garner said. “Chris is a guy that started as a freshman last year and will start this year as a sophomore.”
The five-foot-9-inch, 200-pound Page provides a much-needed physicality to the offensive line.
“We expect big things out of him,” Garner said. “He’s physical and smart and he definitely anchors the offensive line for us.”
Zacorey Culver, So., Offensive Guard/Defensive Tackle: Culver is yet another Warhawk player that was thrown into the starting lineup as a freshman and has been one of the brightest spots on the team since Garner arrived.
“He’s been one of the biggest bright spots for me since I came in January,” Garner said. “Zacorey was a little heavy when we got here and hadn’t figured out the weight room yet and that has completely flipped.
“His body has changed and his mind has changed and he’s turned into our best lineman hands down. He will be a load on both sides of the ball.”
Culver will help anchor the interior of both lines as a guard on offense and defensive tackle on defense. During OTAs in the summer, Culver routinely found himself in the opposing offense’s backfield.
TJ Waller, So., Offensive Guard/Defensive Tackle: Waller is the newest Warhawk and Garner expects him to help anchor down the interior of both the offensive and defensive line alongside Page and Culver.
“TJ walking through the door made us a whole lot better immediately,” Garner said. “Not just because of how good of a football player he is but also how good of a kid he is.
“He’s a hard worker and one of the strongest kids we have in the weight room. He’s only a sophomore and with him and Zacorey anchoring things up front on both sides of the ball we’re in good shape for awhile there.”
Waller brings playing experience from his former school, Satsuma, and the 5-foot-11-inch, 285-pounder adds strength and versatility to Daleville’s young offensive and defensive lines.
Marcus Smith, Fr., Slotback/Cornerback: At five-foot-11-inches and 140-pounds, Smith joined the football team for the first time this offseason and has already made his presence felt.
“Marcus is a young athlete that we were able to talk into playing this year. He’s been a basketball player all his life and he’s already turned into a playmaker for us,” Garner said. “What he will bring to Friday nights is being a playmaker.”
Smith showed off his speed and athleticism during 7-on-7 competitions during the summer, making a number of acrobatic catches in the process.
“He’s smooth with the football in his hands and is willing to block on the edges and is a phenomenal cornerback in coverage,” Garner said. “Marcus has turned into a great athlete and playmaker.”
Jav’eon McCloud, 8th, Slotback/Cornerback: As an eighth grader, the 5-foot-10-inch, 150-pound McCloud has already cracked the lineup for Daleville on both sides of the ball. While McCloud may be the youngest starter for Daleville, he’s been making an impact all summer long.
“He’s one of the better athletes we have just based on a sheer gifted standpoint,” Garner said. “He’s still very young but he’s only going to get better.
“We’ll throw him, as a young guy, into a role on the field and we’re expecting him to go out here and make plays on Friday nights, and I don’t think he’ll shy away from that. He loves the ball in his hands and we’re going to put it in his hands on Friday nights.”
Caden Elmore, Fr., Offensive Line/Linebacker: Elmore has played on both sides of the ball during summer workouts – including some at center – but is expected to take on the role of either tight end or offensive tackle in Daleville’s offense this season. The 6-foot, 215-pounder also serves as an inside linebacker on defense.
“He is one of the smartest football players I’ve ever been around in terms of understanding how football works,” Garner said. “He’s gotten better and better and stronger and stronger and faster than he was last year. Caden is going to be one heck of a football player on both sides of the ball. He’ll be making all the calls on defense at middle linebacker as a freshman.”
Amaury Gomez, Sr., Wide Receiver/Cornerback: Gomez is Daleville’s lone senior on the 2021 roster but this is still his first time playing football.
“He’s gotten better every single day and is starting to understand how football works and how coverages work,” Garner said. “Now that stuff is starting to click for him in his mind you can see him start making plays and loving it. He’ll just keep getting better throughout the season.”
Though this is Gomez’s first season on the gridiron, the 6-foot, 160-pound senior has already earned a spot as a starting wide receiver and cornerback.
Cameron Enfinger, So., Offensive Line/Defensive End: Enfinger started on both offensive and defensive line as a freshman last season and the 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pounder has turned into one of the team’s better players on both lines.
“He’s been a bright spot all summer long,” Garner said. “He was thrown in the fire as a young guy last year. Cam is a high-effort guy, which is nice to see. His motor rarely stops and we’re going to need that.”
Mason Lafferty, Jr., Wide Receiver/Safety: Garner said that the 6-foot-1-inch, 165-pound junior is one of the hardest working players on the team and that hard work should show up on the field this year.
“Mason is one of the more hardworking kids that we have,” Garner said. “It’s always, ‘yes, sir’ and never a, ‘why’ when we ask him to do something. He does anything and everything we ask him.”
Garner also said that he’s one of the team’s surest tacklers, which will help on a team that struggled making tackles a year ago.
“Mason is one of our best tacklers and his willingness to tackle will be a big key for us on defense,” Garner said.