By Donovan Stewart:
Grace Christian Academy Lions
Last Year’s Record– 2-7
Head Coach– Rusty Smith
Offensive Coordinator– Rusty Smith
Defensive Coordinator– Bruce Anliker
Assistant Coaches– Paul Grasmanis (DL), Bob Jordan (OL), Justin Payne (WR), Scott Spencer (OLB), Brandon Tinnon (RB/DB)
Offense– Pro/Spread Hybrid
Returning Starters on Offense and Defense– 15 (8 Off/7 Def)
Last Playoff Appearance– Never Qualified
Key Returnees– Austin Amor (QB, Sr.), Oliver Hunter (OL/DL, Sr.), Cole Chapman (OL/DL, Sr.), Ben Cannon (OL/DL, Sr.), Noah White (DL/OL, Sr.), Kolby Alonzo (DB/WR, Sr.), Carson Ford (LB Jr.), Caleb Fish (LB/TE, Sr.), Zach White (DB/WR, Sr.)
Key Losses– Gavin Ford (WR/DB), Nicholas Whitson (WR/DB)
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Rusty Smith will head into his third season as the head coach at Grace Christian Academy in Franklin with renewed enthusiasm.
Despite a 2-7 record in the school’s second varsity season last year, Smith is excited about the season’s prospects especially with 15 starters returning.
Eight starters return on offense including senior trigger man Austin Amor who had a very good junior year as he accumulated a robust 3,119 total yards and 31 touchdowns.
Amor was a member of the tnhighschoolfootball.com Class 1A All State team as he passed for 2,076 yards and 21 touchdowns but also rushed for 1,043 yards and added 10 more touchdowns on the ground. The dual threat will be the engine that drives the Lion offense.
Fellow senior Kolby Alonzo (31 catches for 712 yards) returns to lead the receivers. Alonzo was Amor’s favorite target in 2016. Seniors Zach White and Caleb Fish (TE) will return to add to Amor’s arsenal in the passing game.
Senior leadership will be abundant on the offensive line as four starters return. Cole Chapman, Oliver Hunter, Ben Cannon and Noah White will be relied upon to lead the way in the trenches and in the locker room.
Hunter (DE) and White (DT) will pull double duty as they will also flip over to start on the defensive line as well for the Lions while also providing leadership for the defense.
Fish will also start on defense as he will return to start at linebacker and will be joined by sophomore Kitch Cash at another linebacker spot.
Alonzo and White are both versatile enough that both will play hybrid positions. The talented athletes will likely end up making plays at both linebacker and in the defensive secondary.
2012- Year that football program was established at GCA as they played the first three seasons (2012-14) as an eight man program before transitioning to 11 man in 2015.
10,112/76- Career passing yards and touchdowns thrown at Florida Atlantic by GCA Head Coach Rusty Smith
Grace Christian Academy In the Playoffs:
Total Number of Playoff Appearances- 0
Playoff Record- 0-0
Deepest Playoff Run- Never Qualified
Coach Smith’s Thoughts:
August 18- Mt. Juliet Christian
August 25- at Middle Tennessee Christian
September 1- OPEN
*September 8- at Cornersville
*September 15- at Richland
*September 22- at McEwen
*September 29- Moore County
*October 6- Huntland
*October 13- OPEN
*October 20- at Mt. Pleasant
*October 27- Fayetteville
*Denotes Region Game