From Midlands High School Sports.com. Visit them often for updates during the year!
By Emerson Phillips
Last year Chapin High won its first football region title in 21 years. Chapin fans are excited about the job fifth-year head coach Justin Gentry is doing.
“They are,” Gentry said. “We’re trying to get back to the days of Coach Woolbright and Coach Muldrow, when Chapin football was legit. We’re trying to separate ourselves. It’s a work in progress.”
And it’s a work that took a major step forward last year. Chapin went undefeated in the region. But Gentry feels Chapin is still seeking respect in Midlands’ high school football circles.
“Even though we were 5-0 and coming off the region championship, we don’t have an ‘X’ on our backs,” Gentry said. “We’re picked to finish second or third in the region every year. But that’s ok. That’s what helps drive our ship. I actually thrive off that and use it as motivation. I’ve never done the history of Midlands football, but Chapin is probably traditionally one of the strongest schools in the Midlands in modern history. We want to build this program back to prominence.”
Chapin will have a new quarterback in 2014. Last year Matt Charpia ended his Eagles’ career as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards. Junior Logan Bailey (6-0, 200) is penciled in as the starter at QB in 2014.
“Logan brings a different style to the table,” Gentry said. “Matt ran if he needed to. Logan will make plays with his legs. He’s got a pretty good arm. But the pass will be set up a lot more by his legs as opposed to true drop-back.”
Freshman QB Trad Beatty will be the backup and has had a good summer.
“Trad came into the season as the #3 quarterback, he’s now #2 and making a pretty good push,” Gentry said. “He’s 14 years old. His biggest weakness right now is arm strength. But he’s about 6-foot-2 and he’s gone be a big ol’ kid.”
Evan Estridge will start at wide receiver and serve as the #3 QB.
“Evan will be there if we need him,” Gentry said.
Junior Ben Fischer is the #1 running back. He played both JV and varsity last year.
“Ben has done everything to deserve and earn the right to be our starting tailback,” Gentry said. He has not missed a workout this year. He’s busted his tail. But there’s still some competition in that department.”
Chandler Engle will get some carries as well as a spot runner, and he’s a two-time all-region selection at linebacker. He’s a Wofford baseball commit.
Matthew Nalley (6-1, 260) is a senior and a second-year starter at right tackle.
“He’s super, he’s a rock,” Gentry said. “Matt’s done a great job.”
Stephen Haralambis (6-3, 270) is another outstanding veteran who will play both ways this year..
“We’ve moved Stephen Haralambis from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side,” Gentry said. “Right now he has sealed up the center spot. And he’ll play some defensive tackle for us too. He’s being recruited as an offensive lineman because of his size.”
Haralambis has an offer from Charleston Southern. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State are also showing interest.
Haralambis, Matthew Bickley (6-0, 215) and Will Register will start on the defensive line. Bickley’s a senior. Register’s just a sophomore, and he’ll play H-back/Tight End also.
Junior Garrett Reinhart (6-1, 190) is a newcomer who will start at inside linebacker. Junior Caleb White (6-1, 175) will play receiver and safety. Caleb’s older brother Carter was a standout for Chapin last year, and he’s now playing football at Presbyterian College.
“Caleb’s gone be just as good as Carter, if not better,” Gentry said.
Senior Nate Blankenship is a third-year starter at safety and he’ll play receiver also. Noah Schelble (6-1, 175) will play receiver and defensive back. Schelble started at safety last year.
“There’s no words to describe Nate and Noah,” Gentry said. “They’re our heart and soul. We feel like our defense can be as good as anybody else’s just with those two guys back there.”
Senior receiver/cornerback Rakeem “Rock” Ricard (5-11, 180) is another player Gentry is high on. Ricard was hurt in the first game last year but is back in 2014.
“He’s the epitome of hard work,” Gentry said. “He’s fully healthy and ready to rock ‘n roll. He benches 325 and squats 500. He’ll be on the radar as a recruit as soon as the season starts.”
AC Flora might be the popular preseason pick to with the region, but Gentry likes his club’s chances at a second straight region crown.
“I feel like come region time, we can be in the mix,” Gentry said. “We’ve changed the mindset here. When we go on the field, our boys feel like we can win now. It wasn’t easy trying to change that mentality here. Our boys have really bought into what we’re trying to do.”
Chapin opens the regular season August 22 at home against Columbia High. The Eagles play in Region 4-3A with AC Flora, Camden, Dreher, Lower Richland and Richland Northeast.