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story.lead_photo.caption Members of the Central Arkansas Christian offensive line, including junior Parker Noyes, No. 65; senior Lance Morris, No. 76; junior Andrew Teer, No. 53; and sophomore Ayden Fitts, No. 52, prepare to hike the ball during the game against Mayflower on Aug. 28.

Central Arkansas Christian junior running back Tyler Williams rushed for more than 185 yards with 4 touchdowns in the team’s 35-20 win over Mayflower on Aug. 28.

“You can definitely tell he’s a downhill runner,” CAC head coach Tommy Shoemaker said of Williams. “He has gotten stronger and has a whole different demeanor, and I think he has certainly improved.

“He was a good back as a sophomore, but he is hitting the hole with some speed. He had three runs the other night over 40 yards.”

As a sophomore, Williams missed about four games because of a bad thigh bruise. Shoemaker said Williams took a shot on his thigh, and it “takes a long time to heal sometimes.” Senior backup running back Ethan DeMarco, who also plays linebacker on defense, rushed for about 30 yards in the win over Mayflower.

“The story for us the other night was our offensive line; they just did really good,” Shoemaker said.

He said senior right tackle Jeremiah Wingfield dominated on that side of the line. Shoemaker said Wingfield, who is a three-year starter, has gotten stronger over the offseason and moves a lot better.

“He has gotten in better shape and is able to do a lot more,” Shoemaker said. “He has a mindset of wanting to be a dominant offensive line, and he has that ability.

“He probably squats more than 400 pounds and is a pretty good power cleaner.”

Central Arkansas Christian finished 8-4 last year, losing in the second round of the state playoffs to Pulaski Robinson. The Mustangs tied for the

4A-2 Conference championship with Southside Batesville, Lonoke and Riverview. Shoemaker said the goal for this year is to win the district championship outright and make it to at least the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

“We have a lot of seniors who are athletic, but they don’t have a lot of game experience,” Shoemaker said. “The biggest takeaway from Friday was getting their feet wet and getting some playing time.

“I saw a bunch of them steadily improving throughout the game. We are going to be one of those teams that get better each week.”

Shoemaker said he looks forward to seeing “how we are getting better as we go through the year.”

Senior quarterback Palmer Gilbrech is a three-year starter and completed 6 passes and rushed for more than 40 yards in the win over Mayflower.

“He has a real calm presence on the field, and I think the guys have a lot of confidence in him,” Shoemaker said. “He is not afraid to run the ball when we need him, but he is a very accurate passer.

“He’s more of a pocket guy, but he can be a threat running the ball.”

Senior wide receiver Jackson Richmond caught three of those passes. Richmond played at the junior high level, but this is his first time playing at the varsity level.

“I think because it was his senior year, he wanted to give it a chance,” Shoemaker said. “He was a little bit smaller in junior high, but he is a really good athlete with good speed.

“He does a lot of good things naturally because he plays free safety for us as well. He will continue to get better as he gets more playing time as we go through the year.”

Senior Cole Shoemaker, the coach’s son, was the team’s leading tackler last year, and his dad said Cole has gained about 15 pounds, which has given him a lot of confidence.

“Senior Carlito London is our best cover guy,” Coach Shoemaker said. “Ty Bahnks was a transfer from Bryant last year, and he is playing varsity football for the first time.

“He is an exceptional athlete who plays fast and can erase a lot of mistakes just because he is so fast and physical.”

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