Cleveland's on field leader emerges from the school hallways

Chase Oliver.PNG
Cleveland High senior Chase Oliver went from the school hallways to on-field leader. Photo: WTVC Sports

High school football is upon us.

NewsChannel 9's Top Matchup should serve as a barn burner -- the Cleveland Blue Raiders at Rhea County Golden Eagles.

A leader has emerged for the Blue Raiders, from the hallways of the school.

Senior outside linebacker Chase Oliver said, "We were just missing like one thing. I really thought if someone would take charge, take leadership, we could really get this thing going."

Oliver is that someone.

But he's not a longtime player.

In fact, he quit playing after he injured his knee in 7th grade.

Last year, Cleveland coach Scott Cummings approached him in the hallway, knowing Chase had some talent.

Oliver recalled the meeting, "We just got to talking football and I was like, 'Yeah, I'd be committed. I mean it's something I do want to do and it just took off."

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Kellye Cawood leads the triple option show.

Coach Cummings likes his signal caller, "He can spin it, he's got a lot of savvy with his arm, can run it well enough to keep defenses off of us a little bit."

Cawood will try to get the ball in the hands of speed burners Micaleous Elder and Keegan Jones.

Cummings said it's the obvious thing to do. "Anytime you got a guy that runs a sub 4.4 40, he's (Elder) going to be a big part of your game plan."

Rhea County's game plan is simple.

Pound the ball, chew up clock and stop Cleveland's big plays.

But this year, the Golden Eagles have moved to a shotgun, but we'll stay true to running the football.

Coach Mark Pemberton expects a battle at the line of scrimmage. "It'll be a physical game I think. I think they're better in the trenches than they were last year. Hopefully, we'll bring our A game."

Zack Pemberton will guide Rhea's offense at the quarterback slot.

Wingbacks A.J. Velasco and Gavin Morrison will play key roles.

Fullback Christian Simon will be the featured runner, he rushed for roughly a thousand yards last season.

Meanwhile, Cleveland's coach said his team has grown.

Oliver is a key reason. "Just be emotional, be a vocal leader. Be the one that steps up and says something when something's going wrong or something's going right. Let the guys know if we're doing it right or wrong," said the senior on a mission.