The 2019 Preseason Elite 11 team is filled with talent all over the field from Enterprise, New Brockton and Daleville. The Elite 11 features six seniors, four juniors and one sophomore on the 2019 team. Enterprise’s Josh McCray joins New Brockton’s Kaden Cupp, Russell Weeks and Josh Cardwell along with Daleville’s Peanut Bloodsaw and Jalen White as returning members of the Elite 11 team.
White is reigning The Southeast Sun/Daleville Sun-Courier Offensive Player of the Year and McCray is the reigning All-Around Player of the Year.
#6 Josh McCray – Tailback/Safety – 6-1, 215 (Jr.) – Enterprise
McCray was the Elite 11 All-Around Player of the Year in 2018 after catching 45 passes for 558 yards and three touchdowns along with 12 rushing touchdowns from the “Wildcat” position. McCray – who already boasts scholarship offers from schools like Tennessee and Troy – is moving back to tailback in 2019 and is poised for an even bigger season.
“I think he’s as talented as anyone I’ve ever had the fortune to coach,” Enterprise coach Rick Darlington said of McCray. “He’s the alpha dog (of the team) and as Josh goes, so goes the team.”
McCray will also be playing on defense for the first time in his career as he starts at safety. The hard-hitting junior has the size and speed that could make him an elite defensive back. McCray will also handle kickoff and punt returns in 2019 giving him plenty of chances to shine with the ball in his hands.
#1 Jackson Darlington – Quarterback/Fullback/Safety – 6-1, 205 (Sr.) - Enterprise
Darlington comes into the season as the only member of the Wildcats with experience playing in the “single wing” offense and will be called on to lead on both sides of the ball.
“Jackson is obviously a really good player but he’s also a really great leader, too,” Rick Darlington said. “He’ll have to be that guy on both sides of the ball for us this season.”
Jackson Darlington will also be playing safety – opposite of McCray – and was able to show off his playmaking skills in the secondary during the spring game against Park Crossing in April.
In 2018, Jackson Darlington threw for more than 1,200 yards and completed 63-percent of his passes at Apopka High School in Florida.
#52 Fernando Diaz – Outside Tackle – 6-3, 260 (Sr.) – Enterprise
Diaz will anchor the Enterprise offensive line much like he did in 2018, when he earned all-state honors at offensive tackle.
Diaz will play outside tackle in Darlington’s “single wing” offense in 2019 and provides the mixture of athleticism and size to the tackle position that could result in a dominating season for the senior.
#29 Robert Ellis – Inside Linebacker/Tight End – 6-0, 210 (Sr.) - Enterprise
Ellis returns to the Enterprise defense after battling a number of injuries in the second half of the season last year.
Even despite all the injuries he recorded 32 tackles and 3.5 tackles-for-loss in six starts last season.
“Robert will be one of our key players on defense this year,” Darlington said. “He’ll also be a weapon for us on offense.”
Ellis will also be playing tight end on the offensive side of the ball for the first time in his career.
#85 Russell Weeks – Tight End/Linebacker/Punter – 6-3, 225 (Sr.) – New Brockton
Weeks has been a versatile player for the Gamecocks for his entire career but in 2019 he will be called on more than ever.
“We expect him to do what he’s been doing,” New Brockton coach Holmes said of Weeks. “We catches the ball really well and blocks his tail off, but we also need him to play consistently with intensity.
“That’s the big thing with him and the challenge for him because he’ll play more snaps on defense this year, too. He’ll probably play more snaps in a game than he ever has. Being consistent is the key for him.”
Weeks caught 28 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns in 2018 but was also an all-state punter with an average of nearly 38 yards per punt. In 2019, Weeks will also serve as a starting outside linebacker for the Gamecock defense where he has excelled in the offseason.
#18 Kaden Cupp – Quarterback – 5-11, 155 (So.) – New Brockton
Cupp is still just a sophomore but already holds the single season New Brockton passing record. The key for the young gunslinger will be continuing to improve from last season.
“Kaden is a good football player and has really improved greatly this offseason,” Holmes said. “He’s really been focusing on his footwork and cleaning up things and being more polished (as a quarterback).”
Cupp completed 117-of-189 passes in 2018 for 1,774 yards and 18 touchdowns along with four rushing touchdowns. Holmes said that one thing they are focusing on with Cupp is making sure that he makes good decisions.
“We just need him to continue to develop and a big thing is making good decisiosn with the football,” Holmes said. “We want every drive to end with a kick whether that is a punt, a field goal or a PAT. We just can’t turn the ball over.”
#3 Colton Marsh – Safety/Wide Receiver – 6-0, 170 (Jr.) – New Brockton
Marsh was Cupp’s favorite target in 2018 and caught a team-high 33 passes for 565 yards and five touchdowns, but this year the Gamecock playmaker will be tasked to be a leader on defense, as well.
“The most exciting thing about him is on defense,” Holmes said. “He hasn’t played a lot of defense before but in the spring game he was outstanding and during the summer he’s been great. I expect him to be a playmaker for us on both offense and defense.”
Marsh is already making checks and calls in the Gamecock secondary and has been stellar in pass coverage. Marsh will also likely be New Brockton’s primary kick returner, as well.
#12 Josh Cardwell – Defensive End/Fullback – 6-0, 220 (Sr.) – New Brockton
Cardwell is a two-time Elite 11 player and returns as one of the top defensive lineman in the area and one of New Brockton’s unquestioned leaders on defense.
In 2017, Cardwell recorded 40 tackles and two quarterback hurries, while he also had 26 tackles and seven tackles-for-loss with three sacks in 2018. In 2019, his role will expand to the offense.
“Josh is a really good player on our defensive line but he’s also moving over to the offensive side and will play fullback and tight end for us,” Holmes said. “He’s a very physical football player.”
Caldwell will look to bring his physicality and toughness to the offense and pave the way for New Brockton’s running backs.
#25 Jalen White – RB/S – 6-0, 192 (Sr.) – Daleville
Jalen White is coming off of a season where he rushed for more than 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior, and is one of the top returning senior running backs in the entire state.
White broke the 100-yard mark in all but one game last season, and the senior exploded in the playoffs rushing for more than 500 yards in two games. Daleville coach Desmond Lett expects that production to continue in 2019.
“The last few games last year he really turned things up and got hot running downhill,” Lett said. “That’s what our expectations are (of him) this season, which is to continue to give him the ball going downhill and letting him do his thing.
“He runs hard, makes guys miss and also will run over players. Jalen is determined not to let the first man bring him down and he’s really hard to tackle.”
White has also stepped up his role as a vocal leader during the summer and will also be a leader in the defensive secondary as a safety. White recorded 78 tackles and three sacks as a junior.
“Our defensive backs are kind of spoiled having (Jalen) back there because he covers a lot of ground,” Lett said. “That allows them to kind of play more freely and not worry about making mistakes because they have Jalen back there to help them out.”
#1 Peanut Bloodsaw – QB – 6-1, 200 (Jr.) – Daleville
Bloodsaw is coming into his second year as a starter on the Daleville offense after totaling more than 1,400 yards and 20 total touchdowns as a sophomore.
“He’s growing up,” Lett said of his quarterback. “Last year he went through some growing pains as a sophomore but going into his junior year he’s starting to understand his reads more and what throws he should and shouldn’t try to make.”
Bloodsaw will also see playing time from time to time in the defensive secondary and possibly even at wide receiver in different offensive packages.
#15 Sincere McKenzie – RB/WR/LB – 5-6, 155 (Jr.) - Daleville
McKenzie rushed for 301 yards and three touchdowns along with 102 yards and another touchdown receiving in 2018 but was also a leader on defense at linebacker despite being undersized.
“Sincere is a firecracker,” Lett said. “He’s probably 5-5, 125-pounds but when he comes at you he brings everything he has. He plays hard, plays fast and will probably be the leader on defense.”
McKenzie will play a number roles on the offensive side at running back, fullback and slot receiver. During 7-on-7 competition in the summer McKenzie has made numerous plays in the passing game.