Concord Mountain Lions

ATHENS — The Concord Mountain Lions football season kicks off tomorrow at the home of the Mountain East Conference defending champions Notre Dame Blue Knights at Mueller Field in South Euclid, Ohio, and hopes are high for a good start.

CU Head Football Coach Paul Price opened his first weekly press conference for the 2019 season by saying, "We'll be challenged this year from the start, but we feel that we're as good as or better at all positions."

Notre Dame, he added, made the Division II National Semifinals in football in 2018,missing out on the Championship Game by a touchdown and are the fourth-ranked team in Division II pre-season polls.

"Offensively, they return most of their offensive line, their tight end and their best (three) receivers. Their running back (Jaleel McLaughlin) was a freshman All-American and their quarterback (Chris Brimm) runs their run-pass option offense very well. Defensively, they return their top top linebackers and a defensive end Sha'haun Williams who had 20 sacks. They have a very strong team,' he said.

Last year's game at Concord saw the Mountain Lions control the first half and have the lead at half-time, before McLaughlin spurred a second-half comeback by the visitors.

"It's an old coaches' saying that if you have to play a powerhouse team play them early while they are still working out their game,' he said.

As for Concord's defense, Price said he was going to revolve his top four safeties in Ke'shawn Hall; Cam fabnnon, Imani Moore and Davon Williams, while former safety Johnathan Roebuck , Zion Barnette and Jakil Sarhim gives the team the ability to play nickel and dime defenses.

"We have a faster than before linebacker corps and ,up front, we have eight good players, Ryan Gatrell who plays the 'joker" position is one of our captains.. The defense should be vastly improved," he said.

As for offense, fifth-year senior Kyle Akin starts his second consecutive season at quarterback for CU with sophomore Josh Maxwell at running back and senior Brandon Plyler and junior Tywan Pierce at receiver

Among the offensive linemen is right tackle Mason Walker, a freshman from Bluefield High School who Price said, "is a high character guy who stood out among our-first-year players."

Center Keener Burke, 'is a second-generation Concord player who isone our program guys who came up through the ranks and gives you everything he's got."

Price concluded by saying, "The process is about getting better, We're retaining more players than ever and have them ready to go, but we've got to be ableto finish games and get better each play, each quarter and each half."

Contact Jeff Harvey at delimartman@yahoo.com.

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