While it’s been a confusing – and sometimes bizarre – preseason leading up to the 2020 season, this year’s 2020 Elite 11 is filled to the brim with athletes deserving of recognition heading into the season. These athletes from New Brockton, Enterprise and Daleville will look to overcome the adversities presented by COVID-19 this season to bring championship glory to their teams.
#6 Josh McCray – Athlete – 6-1, 220 (Sr.)
Josh McCray may be the most versatile player in the entire state having started effectively at running back, wide receiver and safety during his high school career.
“He’s a very versatile kid,” Enterprise coach Rick Darlington said. “We move him around to a bunch of different spots. He’s kind of our version of the ‘slash’ player.”
While McCray started at both running back and safety as a junior, Darlington said the plan for 2020 is to allow the Elite 11 athlete to concentrate on offense in 2020. Last season, McCray totaled 604 yards and seven touchdowns rushing along with 103 yards and another touchdown receiving. He also had 39 tackles and four interceptions on defense.
In the Wildcats’ hybrid offense McCray will line up at tailback, fullback, wing back and receiver creating matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
#14 Quentin Hayes – Quarterback – 61, 175 (Jr.)
Quentin Hayes may end up being the X-Factor for the Wildcats in 2020 as he takes over at the quarterback position, and his coaches are excited about the possibilities.
“I think he’s a guy that can have a breakout year,” Darlington said of his quarterback. “He’s a quiet leader and very natural at things we ask him to do.
“He’s athletic, very smart and just a great person. I’m really excited for him and I think he’s going to be a special player.”
Hayes primarily played running back and receiver as a sophomore – while also serving as Jackson Darlington’s backup at quarterback – and totaled 170 yards rushing with 27 yards receiving in 2019.
#3 LZ Leonard – Linebacker – 5-8, 175 (Sr.)
One of Enterprise’s fastest players, LZ Leonard will lead the 2020 Wildcat defense as the team’s leading returning tackler. In 2019, Leonard racked up 73 tackles, 14.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks and an interception, but Darlington is most impressed with Leonard’s progress off the field.
“LZ has come along the farthest as a human being of anyone else on the team,” Darlington said. “He’s also very fast, aggressive, a good leader and a hard worker.”
#17 Jaylon Webster – Defensive Back – 6-0, 175 (Sr.)
Webster is Enterprise’s most versatile and experienced defensive back having started at both cornerback and safety during his career.
“He’s just a really solid defensive back,” Darlington said. “He’s gotten faster and stronger in the offseason, too. He’s also a good leader. Really none of our guys are very loud but behind the scenes they say the right things to encourage the guys.”
Webster recorded 66 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, five pass breakups and two interceptions as a junior. Webster was also a terror on special teams blocking three PATs or field goals during the season.
New Brockton Gamecocks
#18 Kaden Cupp – Quarterback – 5-11, 175 (Jr.)
Cupp is coming off a record-setting 2019 in which he set virtually all of New Brockton’s single season passing records. He completed 92-of-185 passes for 1,430 yards with 18 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. Cupp also became a threat with his legs with 549 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
“I’m excited about watching him play. He’s bigger, faster and stronger,” New Brockton coach Zack Holmes said. “His football IQ has also gone up and I’m fired up to see him in action and see him controlling our offense.”
Holmes also said that Cupp is becoming more of a leader of the team and is also becoming an architect of the Gamecock offense of sorts.
“What’s cool is he’s taking owernship of our offense and is becoming more of a part of really the whole thing,” Holmes said. “The offense will start to look a little bit different because we’re asking him what his favorite route combinations are and things like that. You’ll see his fingerprints all over the offense.”
#20 Julian Noble – Linebacker/Running Back – 6-0, 205 (Sr.)
Noble comes into 2020 bigger and stronger than a season ago and his coach said that he believes a switch flipped on for him last season.
“Julian has grown as much as anyone probably and not just physically,” Holmes emphasized. “He worked his tail off during the quarantine but about a year ago I told Julian that if this was something he was serious about – and he wanted to play football – then he had to be serious about it. Since then he has really come on.”
Noble recorded 25 tackles, four tackles-for-loss and two sacks as a junior but will also see his role on the offensive side increase. Noble will play both tailback and fullback on offense, but as one of the fastest Gamecocks Holmes said he could also see time as a kickoff returner.
#3 Colton Marsh – Safety/Wide Receiver – 6-2, 170 (Sr.)
Marsh has been a starter at multiple positions at New Brockton, including quarterback, and will be called on to be a leader on both sides of the ball as a senior.
“Last year Colton made a lot of plays on defense and this year he’ll have to continue to do those things but after losing some guys on offense he’ll need to fill in some of that production, as well,” Holmes said. “He has to maintain and get even better on defense but he also has to increase his role on offense. He’s already the leader in the secondary but watching his leadership role on the whole team has been fun.”
In 2019, Marsh recorded 31 tackles and seven tackles-for-loss on defense, while catching 14 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns on defense.
Marsh will start at safety on defense but will also be New Brockton’s primary slot receiver and will also return punts and kickoffs.
#15 Drew Cashin – Defensive End/Linebacker – 5-11, 220 (Sr.)
As a junior, Cashin had 44 tackles, six tackles-for-loss and an interception. Coming off a solid 2018 performance, Holmes expects to see even more from his outside linebacker/defensive end.
“Cash was kind of figuring out the defense last year and now he’s playing so much faster,” Holmes said. “Physically he’s better but also I think he’s really understanding what we’re doing on defense, too. We have to keep him healthy but I think he’ll make some big plays for us.”
#15 Sincere McKenzie – ATH – 5-7, 156 (Sr.)
Sincere McKenzie is Daleville’s unquestioned leader on both sides of the football. McKenzie totaled more than 600 yards of offense and four touchdowns with 17 two-point conversions, which is the third most in state history for a single season. He also recorded 61 tackles and seven tackles-for-loss on defense.
“He’s a natural born leader,” Daleville coach Desmond Lett said. “I expect him to lead on both sides of the ball and he’s thriving in this role. He understands he has big shoes to fill with Jalen (White) leaving and also (former quarterback) Peanut (Bloodsaw) leaving and he’s stepping up. He knows the other kids in there look up to him.”
White is also one of Daleville’s most versatile players with experience at tailback, receiver, linebacker, cornerback, safety and kick returner.
#77 Jeremiah Moore – OL/DL – 6-3, 272 (So.)
While Jeremiah Moore is only a sophomore, at times he looked unstoppable as a freshman starting all 11 games. He’s also Daleville’s most physically imposing player at 6-foot-3-inches and over 300 pounds.
“He’s probably our best looking kid,” Lett said of his big lineman. “Last year he played a lot on varsity and being that young you have to take the good with the bad. At times he looked like he couldn’t be blocked and other times he couldn’t get out of his stance.
“We let him know that he is able to dominate every snap but he has to get in better shape and be able to do that. He’s worked hard in the weight room and trying to be better conditioned.”
Moore recorded 25 tackles and 8.5 tackles-for-loss with two sacks and a fumble recovery on defense but was also a dominant run-blocker on the offensive side of the ball. With not much depth returning on either line, Moore will be valuable to the Warhawks.
#52 Myles Parris – LB – 6-0, 220 (Sr.)
Myles Parris is Daleville’s leading returning tackler after totaling 92 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss and two forced fumbles as a junior in 2019. The hard-hitting linebacker will also be called on to lead in 2020.
“He does everything wide open,” Lett said. “Even if he makes a wrong choice he does it wide open but he’s also our most sure tackler.
“He’s really stepped it up in the weight room and has decided he wants to lead by example.”
Parris’ role on offense will also increase as he plays along the offensive line.