In his first year at the helm of an extremely young football program, Melbourne Bearkatz head coach Kevin McCarn said his team members — and the community around them — are still learning what it takes to have a successful program.
“We’ve just gotta learn what it takes to win,” McCarn said. “They haven’t been playing football here that long. … We’re still learning what it takes to have a program and win.”
With nine seniors on his 26-man roster, McCarn said that experience should be a plus for the Bearkatz this year, although the accompanying lack of depth could potentially translate into problems.
“We’ve got a lot of experience returning,” he said. “I think our skill positions will be a strength, but depth [and] numbers will probably be a weakness.”
Asked about his predictions for the season, McCarn said the expectations came from the team itself.
“We kind of let the kids set the goal …,” he said, “and we expect to be in the playoffs.”
As this marks his first year at Melbourne, McCarn said he had little basis for comparing last year’s team to this year’s, but he did say many of the same players are back.
“Most all of them are returning,” he said. “We only lost three or four seniors from last year, so pretty much, it’s the same team — just doing different schemes.”
As far as key games on the calendar go, McCarn had a pragmatic, if nonspecific, answer.
“The next one,” he said when asked which games he’s circling. “We are going one game at a time.”
Leading the team’s multiple offensive attack will be all-league senior quarterback Kyler McLaughlin (6-1, 195). McLaughlin is touted as being dangerous from long range, having opened his varsity career by throwing a 65-yard touchdown pass in the Bearkatz’ inaugural game against Palestine-Wheatley last year.
In the backfield, junior running back Dalton Romero (5-9, 155) returns, as do senior receivers Cody Goodman (6-1, 165) and Nick Miller (5-8, 145).
On the offensive line, senior C.J. Masson (5-11, 265), who boasts a 415-pound squat, returns to guard after earning all-conference honors last season.
Senior Isaac Felton (5-9, 200) will man the other guard slot, while senior Drake Cooper (6-0, 330) will play center.
Given the young team’s lack of depth, McCarn said, most of his squad will play in both directions, with Masson and Felton bringing experience, size and strength to the defensive line.
Also on the defensive side of things, Goodman will cover the safety slot, while Romero will play corner.
Kenny Haney (5-10, 205) brings proven ability to the middle-linebacker position, having been Melbourne’s leading tackler in 2012.
Junior Jared Humphrey (5-8, 150) will play weakside linebacker, and senior Aaron McNally (5-9, 185), who will help in the backfield on offense, will play outside linebacker.
Senior Korey Caraway (5-11, 195) will cover the end position.