CAMERON — A new year, new facilities and new turf.
That’s how the Cameron Dragons are entering the 2021 season.
Despite a flood that overtook the new turf earlier this summer, the field is ready to go and so are the Dragons.
“The kids are having fun,” Cameron coach Tim Brown said. “They didn’t get to play on this field last year. Now, we’ll have our first three games at home on this field and our seniors are able to see that they are going to get to play on the field in front of a crowd.”
Although the turf and the locker rooms are new and renovated, the faces on the field will look mostly the same.
Cameron returns mostly everyone on offense, as well as the entire defense from last year, in what could be a very exciting campaign.
“I think our experience is finally going to show up,” Brown said. “We have 30 kids who have been here now for two or three years.
“We have skill kids back and I think we have one of the best young quarterbacks in the valley and defensively, when you have athletes, it’s a lot easier to be aggressive and switch it up because of that experience and talent.”
The QB leading Cameron on to that new turf this year is sophomore Colson Wichterman (5-10, 147), who threw for over 1,000 yards as a freshman.
“We had COVID going on last year so there was a lot of not knowing,” Brown said. “Usually you get more than a week to prepare for a team but the last four of our seven games we played were pickup games and we didn’t have time to prepare. Colson was a freshman who came into a turbulent and unknown situation — how many freshmen have the maturity to be able to handle that? He did. He had to deal with not having much game preparation and had to try to make good decisions and he made a lot of them. The best thing about him is when he would make a mistake, he wouldn’t pout, he would try to fix it. That’s when I knew this kid was beyond his years. He is truly a leader, a good kid and you’re going to hear his name a lot for the next three years.”
Providing depth at QB is freshman Camden Frye (5-10, 140).
He’ll be joined in the backfield by senior running back Isaac Ball (5-9, 165) and a plethora of others who can help get the ball down the field.
“Isaac is going to be our No. 1 back but he can also line up at wide receiver,” Brown said. “That way teams will have to prepare for him at both positions. Wherever he is, he’ll be a dangerous threat that they will have to prepare for.”
Other backs in the mix for carries include sophomore J Ross (5-9, 170), senior Jourdan Presto (6-0, 170) and freshman Slaton Pettit (5-7, 130).
At wide receiver, Wichterman will have an array of weapons to choose from.
“(Juniors) Cole Burkett (5-11, 170) and Payton Neely (5-10, 155) are extremely good athletes and (sophomore) Lance Hartley (6-4, 180) is a big, young athlete and (senior) Landen Tustin (5-11, 170) is back and he is always a threat.
“If you try to take away somebody, we’ll have somebody else. If the offensive line does its job, we have the skill kids to put together a tough game plan offensively and defensively for people to deal with.”
Also included in the receiving corps are seniors Connor Powell (6-2, 175) and Colton Lyons (6-0, 180), junior Brayden Marling (5-6, 120), sophomores Delbert Van Tassell (5-6, 140), Ashton Hoge (5-9, 155), Colton Winters (6-0, 155), Gage Lilley (5-11, 135) and Jayden Stoneking (6-1, 160) and freshman Mason Scott (5-10, 135).
The offensive line that will allow Wichterman time to deliver the ball to these play-makers is solid and has Brown and his staff excited for Week 1.
“In a small school, sometimes it’s hard to find a line,” Brown said. “We have probably eight or 10 linemen who are competent, so that alone will make things much better. I talk to them everyday and tell them that even if they aren’t starting, we’re going to rotate them in and keep everybody fresh.
“The long game is to play 15 games and if we can stay healthy for 15 games, we’re going to have a shot and we’re excited about that.”
This year’s line could consist of seniors Xavier Stoneking (5-9, 235), David Yeater (6-0, 220),
Cole Cumpston (5-9, 190), Landon Van Tassell (6-4, 265), Clayton Bryan (6-3, 235) and Tyler Fortune (6-3, 270), junior Gunnar Bryan (6-3, 310), sophomores Thad Dempewolf (5-10, 230), Caleb Reynolds (5-7, 235) and Ryder Stern (6-0, 250) and freshman Wes Starcher (5-8, 160).
On defense Xavier Stoneking and Yeater are likely to be crucial on the line.
“Two seniors, who are capable of offense, too, Xavier Stoneking and Yeater are bigger, faster and stronger, while also becoming more intelligent about the game,” Brown said.
“At defensive end Hartley and Colton Lyons will return.
“Those four were our starting defensive line last year and they are all back.
“J Ross is back at middle linebacker and he is only a sophomore, Tustin is back as a senior at linebacker, as well. Wichterman and Burkett will be defensive backs for us and we just have a lot of returners who are going to be better this year.”
Xavier Stoneking and Matt Wiseman will handle kicking duties.
Brown’s coaching staff will be made up of assistants such as Matt Burge, Gibbs Davidson, Derek Martin, Nick Myers and James Rogers, while Sharon Brown will be the statistician.