With the last state championship for Meadowbrook coming in 2004, the Monarchs are hungry for another.
Last season, Meadowbrook pulled a huge 8-7 upset over Highland Springs, the eventual state champion, but struggled in the second half of the season, finishing with a 4-6 record.
Meadowbrook’s roster last year was full of college-level talent, such as Dre Giles, Michael Crewe Jr, Tireck Jenkins, Jesson McCray, Jordan Hunter, Jordan Jeter, and Daquan Young, who all moved on to the collegiate level. The Monarchs will now have to turn to their younger players to make up for the production they lost.
Coach Adam Tiller and his staff will return for his third season, and is looking to get Meadowbrook into the playoffs and possibly even make a deep playoff run.
“When I came in, it was a fresh new staff, and now this will be our third year, explained Tiller. “Practices run smooth. There’s never a question of what’s going on.”
This continuity and chemistry described by Tiller has also taken hold of his offensive unit this season.
“Our guys are fluid,” said Tiller. “We run practices this year, and there’s a real difference in the way we get up and down the field, as well as how the language is related to the kids and how they understand it. You can just tell. You say it one time and they get it, the play is run. That’s going to be a huge poisitive.”
Another positive he noted was one many thought might actually be a weakness. The Monarchs starting quarterback last season, Cameron Bullock, graduated last year leaving Greg Fong-Wilson as the starter for this season. However, Tiller is expecting no drop off in production and is betting on him being even better than Bullock.
“We’ve got a quarterback who is electric and dynamic,” said Tiller. “He’s gonna make plays. He’s gonna make our coaches look good on bad situations, and if we stay healthy we’re gonna get some good things done this year.”
Every team comes into a season with hopes of winning it all, but Tiller is determined to be realistic with his team and take everything on a week-by-week basis.
“We’re gonna be realistic with ourselves,” said Tiller. “So many teams come into the season saying 10-0 this, 10-0 that, but we gotta get better every day. Our kids know our specific goal as far as wins and losses, and what we need to do to get ourselves back into the playoffs. If we can get there, then I believe we will be playing well enough to give anyone a run for their money.”
Name: Adam Tiller
Record Last Year: 4-6
Years Coaching: 6
Years with School: 3
Quarterback: With the departure of quarterback Cameron Bullock, the Monarchs turn to Greg Fong-Wilson (5-10, 165) as the leader of the offense. The senior was described by his coach as having “electric feet and an live arm.” According to Coach Tiller, he’s a “special player” and they have full confidence that he will be a player defenses must account for every week.
Running Backs: K.J. McNeil backed up Jordyn Hunter last year, but is set to the be the starter this season for Monarchs, as Hunter moves on to the collegiate level at Shenandoah. McNeil (5-10, 210) had 300 yards rushing as a sophomore and is looking to break out as he enters his junior year. Coach Tiller indicated that McNeil “will get 20+ carries per game.”
Wide Receivers: All-Conference senior Dontez Braxton (5-10, 160) will pair with junior Byron Whitehead (6-3, 190) and sophomore Quantez Christian (5-9, 160) to round out the receiving core for the Monarch offense. Whitehead will play WR, among other positions including corner and safety. Although Christian is young, he played varsity last year as a freshman, and is looking to establish himself as the future leader of their receiving core. Coach Tiller spoke highly of Christian saying he is “Explosive with the ball and great route runner.”
Offensive Line: The “workhorse” of the team according to Coach Tiller has been RG Trevauz Brown (5-10, 300) who enters his junior season. He will join Fong-Wilson as one of the team captains. Center Jordan Lomeli (5-9, 225) is looking to make a big impact in his junior season. Tiller claimed Lorneli is “Very smart” and “Does a great job holding down the middle and making line calls.” Brandon Delaney (6-2 275) is expected by his coach to be an All-Conference player at LT this year. He’s a “physical lineman” who’s “got the nasty.”
Defensive Line: With Dre Giles moving on to Campbell University and Michael Crewe Jr going to Virginia State , there will be some competition for the starting defensive line spots. Among those vying for those positions are juniors Anthony Gary (6-2, 250) and David West (6’2, 235) who both possess the size and speed to be a huge force against opposing offensive lineman
Linebackers: All-Conference LB Brett Hall (5’10, 190) will return to the Monarch defense this season. He had 95 tackles last year and Tiller called him their “best interior defender.” Sophomore Jordan Evans will also take on bigger role this year at the LB position. “He’s young and aggressive, very very smart, and has the potential to be a difference maker at FB and LB,” said Tiller.
Defensive Backs: Junior Paul Davis is a returning starter for the Monarch defense. He’s a safety with a “Knack for making open field tackles” and he “Has a high motor and is very strong.” Whitehead, who also will see time at WR, will also play some corner and safety this season, and will use his D1 size to prove he can play at a high level. Braxton will be looking to add to his already impressive offer list, including many D2 offers, with a string showing this season. “He’s pound for pound the best hitter, most physical, and our best cover corner,” said Tiller.
Special Teams: Junior Jacob Grabham will handling kicking duties this year. He was 7/8 on his field goal attempts last year and his only missed PAT was due to a block. “With our schedule,” said Tiller, “Three points could mean a lot.”
Player to Watch: Cornerback/wide receiver Dontez Braxton has a chance to make a name for himself this year, as he will get substantial playing time on both sides of the ball. The senior athlete has received heaps of praises from his coaches and now has to prove them right on the field. A solid year for Braxton could not only mean success for the Monarchs, but could also lead to him playing D1 football next year after he graduates.