I exchanged a few messages with Johson Central's defensive coordinator, Justin Arms - thanks to Coach Arms for getting me the current details on the Golden Eagles' 2019 schedule. But he offered me a lot of great info on the team's outlook for this upcoming season. Rather than trying to interpret what he told me, I think it's best to just let his words stand as-is. Like I said, a lot of good info here:
The most intriguing thing that we could face with our schedule is post-season opponents in the 3rd and 4th round depending on the new ratings system and seeding those rounds. Either way a Region Championship could put us against Boyle, Corbin or possibly Cov Scott depending on how things shake out.
As far as personnel goes, we really will return 8 starters on both sides of the football. Under center will be 4yr starter Ryley Preece. Ryley was the signal caller for us on our 2016 state championship team and has led us to three straight. Very elusive on the edge and can make all the throws on the field when needed. In the backfield we take a hit losing Joe Jackson, but do return FB Bryce Tackett, HB Devin Johnson and Joe will be filled by committee with Senior Cody Rice, Junior Dillon Preston and possibly freshman Mason Lawson. On the offensive line we lose Byron Pierce/Noah Blankenship and Eddie Patrick. However, there are several players who should be able to fill in nicely in those spots that saw valuable minutes during the season and playoffs. I expect Cam Willis, Hunter Scott/Braiden Castle to fill in those slots. We do return C Andrew Clifton as well as Tackle Grant Bingham (6'6" 265lb c/o 2022) whose brother Ethan is at Marshall. At TE we will return Zack Russell, Seth Dalton as well as Ryan Sartin-Slone at the split.
Defensively, we will return 8 starters as well. Up front will take the biggest lick by losing Matthew and Alex Horn who were 2 and 3 year starters. However, much like offense there will be some guys who may be able to step in and not miss a beat up front. At LB, we lose OLB Evan Adkins to graduation but do return OLB Devin Johnson, and LB's Bryce Tackett and Hunter McCloud. In the secondary, we will return starters Dillon Preston at corner along with Cody Rice and Ryley Preece at the safety. The other corner could be played by Grant Rice, a sophomore who saw valuable minutes during the regular season at that position.
Jake Headley will return as a 3 year starter to perform the kicking duties. Overall, I expect us fully to compete at a high level with a senior heavy team but some new challenges stand in place for us to return to Kroger Field.
As far as recruiting goes, Johnson does have a D1 offer from Morehead and has had a host of schools contact him of late including FBS and FCS schools. I expect him to have a big spring and summer. Preece has received interest from some of the academy schools but doesn't have an offer yet.