Creek looks for key replacements on the interior lines

Cedar Creek continues fall workouts as the start of the regular season creeps closer. Creek will play in the Bayou Jamb Aug. 27 at Joe Aillet Stadium.

By Malcolm Butler

One week into fall workouts, Cedar Creek Coach Matt Middleton and Company took to the practice field Monday night in their first full pads practice.  

The Cougars began workouts last Monday and through the first week, Middleton said finding depth on a roster of his 36 players is one of his biggest priorities.  

“I think the first week has been good,” said Middleton. “We just don’t have a lot of depth right now. It is what it is. Life of a Class A football team. We have some experience. It’s just finding some depth and some two spots that have played some actual ball. We do have some experience so that’s good. We have had some pleasant surprises too. When you put the pads on it all changes.” 

Under somewhat cooler temperatures on Monday evening – and with a storm front about to move through – Middleton could be heard barking at the lack of urgency a number of times late in practice. He chalked it up to the first day in pads.  

“I think any time you put pads on the first day, they act like it’s the end of the world,” said Middleton. “Yeah, it’s hot, but it’s hot everywhere. Everybody else is running around too. You just still have to remind them that hey we have to get up and get going. It’s still a change in regime again. We are getting closer to being back to my style and expectations.” 

One key to the Cougars success in 2021 was the play of its interior lines, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football. The front four on the defensive side helped Creek set program records for scoring defense last year, while the front five on the O-line helped pave the way for plenty of explosive plays. 

However, the Cougars must find replacements for Seth Smith and Carson Riley, something Middleton said isn’t easy. Three starters on the O-line from a year ago return in center Nick Thomas, guard Jake Smith and guard/tackle Quincy Lewis. Middleton feels confident on those three but the big question is who will join them. 

“You obviously don’t just replace football guys like that who have played a lot in their careers,” he said. “We’ve had a left tackle in Brett Johnson who has done a really good job thus far. We are looking at Reagan Pike in a couple of situations at right tackle right now. Really, we are just trying to get our best five out there on the field to give us a chance.” 

After those five?  

“It’s young pups right now,” said Middleton. “At some point a couple of freshmen are going to be in the two deep. It’s finding a way for them to find some confidence early and get some reps so we can get them in and get them involved pretty quick. I don’t know if you ever have enough. This is my second year with a Class A school and you find a way to piece together what you have. Right now, we are still fighting to find out who that is.” 

Middleton said the defensive line would consist of a lot of the same guys as most will have to play both ways.  

“Same guys. Same exact guys,” said Middleton. “You are dealing with the same depth issues on both sides of the football which can be a tough situation.” 

If the season started tomorrow, Middleton said the front four would consist of Smith, Lewis, Johnson and Brian Osborne. 

“We are still just finding our way,” said Middleton.  

Middleton moved today’s practice time up to 8 a.m. in order to try to beat the rain which is forecast for most of the afternoon.  

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