Cornerstone Chargers 2021 football prediction

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Heading into the 2021 football season, the Cornerstone Chargers will be looking to win more than two games for the first time since 2017.

However, there is reason for optimism under fifth-year head coach James Lee thanks to the return of a strong nucleus of seniors who have been part of the program since they were in the eighth grade.

Four key seniors have departed, including Lane Bailey, who was the team’s leader last year.

But the group returning has been looking forward to this season for a while and is bought in to going out as winners and a playoff team.

In the middle of all of those veteran players will be a freshman leader, however.

Taking on the quarterback position as a ninth grader, Zeke Adams is expected to have a breakout year thanks to some experience as a freshman.

Lee described him as too talented to keep off the field, and now, it’s his show to run on the offensive side. With a strong arm, he is developing into a pocket passer, but can also use his feet when needed.

Joining him in the backfield will be leading running back Warren Goodwin. The senior has experience all over the field, including both sides of the line, at wide receiver and at linebacker.

He’ll continue to do it all, but his size of 6-foot-3, 240 pounds makes him an interesting leader to tote the football.

DJ Jones is also expected to play an important role alongside him on the offense.

In addition to those two splitting out wide, Thomas Cleckler and Logan Lightsey will be two leaders at receiver this season for Adams to form a relationship with.

Finding a go-to target will be key for the Chargers, who need to find consistency on offense after scoring 12 or less in six of seven games last year, including six or less in five.

The offensive line will also be key, and it may be the best unit on the offensive side of the ball.

Justus Adams will be the leader of the unit with a frame of 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, while Landon Alexander and Jonah Murphree are also two key players that will be leaned on to create time or space for the offense.

Depth, however, will be the concern, especially with most linemen playing both ways.

While those three will move over to the defensive side, in addition to a few others, Goodwin and Adams can also help out up front.

However, the two stars will likely play at linebacker more than anything.

Adams may be the biggest key of the defense this season, needing to lead a group that gave up 41 or more in five of seven games last year.

Adams posted 107 tackles and 20 tackles for loss last year with seven sacks. Now, he’ll be looked at to help bring others along to give similar production this season.

In the secondary, both Noah Schober and Cleckler will return as starters, but another name or two will need to emerge to help the back end of the defense be as strong as the middle.

Prediction (3-7): With only two wins each of the last three seasons, the Chargers will have to prove this year’s group can help turn the page. The possibility is there with several athletes back, but depth remains a concern against a difficult AISA schedule. Their best chance is to get off to a strong start and show improvement early so the team can get some confidence. Do that, and Cornerstone can quickly become a playoff team. The winnable games are there, but the Chargers will have to prove they are the better team this year.