Cherokees coming together under new coach

New Greenback School head football coach Ethan Edmiston gives instructions during practice.

Ethan Edmiston arrived at Greenback School just two weeks ago to take over the football program.

He’s been encouraged by what he’s seen early on.

The coaching staff has nearly installed the complete defensive scheme, while the offense has progressed a little slower, Edmiston said.

“It’s been a pretty easy transition so far with the staff staying on from last season because they know the kids and have been a big help to me,” he said. “They’ve made it an easy transition, and it’s been a good June because the kids have been working hard. We have the same defensive staff, so we’ve put in a lot of the defense first because I’m getting to know the kids and seeing what they can do and who’s going to play quarterback and what 11 will help us the most on offense. We’ve been full speed with defense and with offense we’re taking it a little bit slower, but it’s been a really good month of June so far.”

Edmiston likes the look at skill positions, including quarterback play from senior Micah Franklin and sophomore Caden Lawson.

Franklin replaced freshman Brennen Duggan at quarterback midway through last season and revitalized a sluggish offense by throwing for 820 yards and four touchdowns en route to being named the All-Region 2-1A Athlete of the Year.

Lawson, a wide receiver turned quarterback, also has a good frame and strong arm after being selected as the All-District 2-1A Pitcher of the Year this season for the Cherokees baseball team.

“We’ve got young wide receivers, but several of them got a good amount of playing time last season as freshmen,” Edmiston said. “They’re young, but they’re good, they’re confident and I feel good about the receiving corps we have, and it’s a positive that you’ll have them for several seasons. We’ve got a couple of quarterbacks right now that either one could be the guy. One’s a senior with experience, Micah Franklin, and he’s also a running back, so he’ll be a key part of the offense either way. Caden Lawson hasn’t played much quarterback, but he’s got a strong arm and has been doing really good right now. I’d be happy with either one of them.”

The transition to a new coach has taken adjustment, but the players have adapted.

“It was hard at the beginning because I’ve been with Coach (Greg) Ryan for three years and it was hard to lose him, but I see it as an opportunity,” Jeremiah Cope, Greenback senior lineman, said. “This is how life is and you’ve got to take change, and it’s been different because he does things different. He’s still a good coach. It was hard at the beginning, but I think he’ll be a great coach and we can do a lot with him.”

Edmiston also brings a wealth of strength training experience, which is already yielding significant progress.

High school teams across the state are on a two-week dead period, but the coaching staff encouraged players to continue working out and stay in shape as much as possible before returning to practice July 12.

“We have been training hard and we are going to continue that into July,” Edmiston said. “They’ve got at-home dead period workouts to do or if they have access to a gym, so we’re going to try to maintain that and then keep working during the season. By game one we want to be much stronger than we are now, and then by the end of the season we want to be an even stronger team by that point. We are just going to keep lifting hard all through the season.”

The offensive and defensive lines are putting in extra work to build and maintain strength, especially after losing All-State lineman Colton Alexander to graduation.

Along with Cope, senior Braden Matoy returns after a stellar season and being selected to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class 1A All-State first team.

“We have two seniors on the offensive line, so that’s big to have senior leadership there,” Edmiston said. “We’ve got some young guys that are going to need to step up, but I’ve been pleased with the five or six that we’ve been rotating there at the offensive line. Having Coach Grey Williams there from last year having him coach the offensive line, he knows the kids and what they can do and what they’re good at so that’s been a big help at that position for sure.”