Creek Wood coach Houston Thiel returns with all of his staff except one assistant coach, and even though the Red Hawks have to navigate through some roster turnover, they will remain in good hands with the current coaching staff.
Chip Sullivan, who worked with the offensive and defensive line, moved to Burns Middle School. Darren Fizer was brought on to help in strength and conditioning.
Thiel will be in his fifth season, and he credits a lot of the success to the fact that he and his coaches were a mainstay in the program during that time.
“The meat of the staff is currently in place still,” Thiel said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve had sustained success over the past few years. We haven’t had a ton of turnover in the coaching staff. We’ve had a few position guys change here and there, but the coordinators have been the same since we got to Creek Wood. That’s a huge thing as far as relationships and putting in systems, and that’s a huge help to me.”
One thing that will be different, though, for Creek Wood is quarterback. Elijah Donaldson led Creek Wood during the past few seasons, and this year, the Red Hawks will have to turn to Jacob Stephens. Stephens got some time in at quarterback as the backup during the last two seasons in blowouts for Creek Wood, but he will be the starter this year.
“Elijah ran that position over the past few seasons and did a great job, but you can’t sign these guys to longterm deals, and that’s part of the fun for me,” Thiel said. “Developing and having that next plan in place is important, and Jacob Stephens has been that guy for us. He’s been waiting, and it’s his senior season. He’s been in our program for a few years now, and he’s got a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball, so it’s not like he’s going to be brand new to Friday night lights. It’ll be a little different for him to be the main signal caller, but he’s a guy the kids look to and enjoy being around and the guys want to make plays for him. I’m looking forward to it. He’s a kid who we’ve been around since our Charlotte Middle School days, so I’m excited to see what he does with this opportunity.”
Running back will look quite different, as well. Brandon Porter, who was named to the All-County team last year as offensive player of the year and running back on the team, graduated. Kaden Miner, Micah Magrecke and Bailey Deason, all of whom got carries at running back are also gone.
One returning player with a lot of experience at the running back spot is Michael Harris. Harris will probably carry the load in the run-heavy Creek Wood offense.
At receiver, once again, Creek Wood has to replace a lot of production with Raekwonn Nesbitt gone. D.J. Riley, who played mostly cornerback, also got a few snaps at receiver, but he also graduated. Jamison Ford returns at the receiver spot and gives Creek Wood a big play threat.
Up front on the offensive line, Eli Edwards and Luke Grantham are two physical guys who will get quite a bit more time in the lineup.
On the defensive side of the ball, returning stars like Michael Harris and Porter Matlock will help the Red Hawks, but again, there are some younger guys who will be looked upon to step up. One of those is Jackson Ham. Ham will play defensive back, and Thiel believes he adds some speed to the defensive backfield.
Eathon Donaldson, Elijah Donaldson’s younger brother, will also get a chance to step out of his brother’s shadow and make a name for himself. Thiel said Donaldson will get a chance at outside linebacker, and he adds a physical nature to the team.
Creek Wood will get its season started at home against Dickson County. The in-county rivalry game has become somewhat of a season kickoff for both schools in the past decade. Creek Wood currently has a two-game winning streak over the Cougars and will look to make it three Aug. 20.
Creek Wood 2021 Football Schedule
Aug. 20 vs. Dickson County
Aug. 27 at Fairview
Sept. 3 at Marshall County
Sept. 10 vs. Pearl-Cohn
Sept. 17 vs. Tullahoma
Sept. 24 vs. Montgomery Central
Oct. 8 at Greenbrier
Oct. 15 at Hillwood
Oct. 22 at Glencliff
Oct. 29 vs. Lawrence County