Landmark Christian preview

Tue, 08/26/2008 - 12:12pm
By: Kevin Wandra

Landmark Christian has been one of the most successful teams in the state over the last six years, having won the Region 5-A title each year (last year, Landmark finished in a three-way tie for first; the other five were outright titles).

The War Eagles hope to continue their long string of success this season.

They suffered some key losses due to graduation, especially at the skill positions — standout running back Walt Lenard and wide receiver tandem Jimmy Eden and Matt Thornton are gone, continuing their playing careers in college — but Landmark coach Kenny Dallas has high hopes for his team.

“I feel we have a very bright future ahead of us,” Dallas said. “Potentially, we will have the strongest line of scrimmage we’ve ever had. Our biggest question mark is replacing the guys we’ve lost at the skill positions spots. I feel like this team can be a good football team despite being young at those skill positions.”

One reason Dallas is optimistic is the return of Tanner Bryant, one of the top quarterbacks in Class A. Bryant, a first-team all-state selection last year, is a dual-threat quarterback.

He is a big-time playmaker both with his legs and his arm. Last season, he threw for almost 2,000 yards (1,856) and 22 touchdowns, and he ran for 921.

“Tanner is an excellent football player,” Dallas said. “He’s a great athlete.”

Bryant will be protected by an offensive line that returns four starters: Cody Crook, John Gable, Phillip Garza and Ryan Brown, all of whom are tough, physical blockers. They are joined by first-year starter Chris Johnson.

Questions abound at the skill positions.

Landmark will deploy a running-back-by-committee approach, with Josh Gebhardt and Blake Wyatt receiving the bulk of the carries. Blake Austin starts at fullback.

Both starting wide receivers are unproven — freshman Cantrell Frazier and sophomore Robert Trotter.

“We are young there, but they are very talented and very young,” Dallas said.

Andrew Glaize, a big target at tight end, provides Bryant with a reliable target.

Dallas is excited about the size he has up front along his defensive line. Defensive tackles Nate Terry (285) and Sheldon Peters (255) in particular have caught Dallas’ eye.

“They are the two biggest interior linemen we’ve ever had,” Dallas said of Terry and Peters.

Starting defensive ends John Murphy and Gephardt, along with backup Cody Nichols, give Landmark a solid line that should wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

“It’s potentially the best defensive line we’ve had,” Dallas said.

The anchor of Landmarks defense is middle linebacker Glaize, who is productive and can cover a lot of ground.

“Glaize is a dominant player,” Dallas said. “He’s definitely a college football player.”

Glaize is flanked by outside linebackers Austin and Austin Broussard, both of whom are expected to have breakout seasons.

“We have a great group of linebackers,” Dallas said. “Potentially, they should be as good as any linebackers we’ve ever had.”

One of the top defensive backs in Class A, Wyatt, a four-year starter, is seemingly always around the ball — he had over 120 tackles last season — and he is the leader of the secondary.

Bobby Water is a superb complement to Wyatt at safety.

Frazier and Brandon Belveal are Landmark’s starting cornerbacks.

Ryan Thomas and Byrant are the kicker and punter, respectively, for the War Eagles.

Landmark will be tested early; it plays state-ranked teams in the first two weeks, Brookstone and Warren County.

The War Eagles’ season opener is August 29 at home against Brookstone.

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