Coach: Mike Brodowicz, sixth season (73-5)
2018 Record: 15-1, 7-0 in Southern Carolinas
Returning Starters: Offense, 5: Defense, 4
Inside the Huddle
The two-time defending champs have gone 31-1 over the past two years, but lost 31 seniors – and at least 13 major contributors – from that team, so this must be a down year, right?
Don’t count on it.
The Cougars’ bread and butter is still their running game. They are loaded on the left side of the offensive line with returning starters Davis Hodgens, Matthew Hayek and left tackle Malik McGowan, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound North Carolina commit.
Taking advantage of that will be running backs Paul Neel, Lamagea McDowell and Garrett McKernan.
McDowell is the battering ram at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, but he ran for 1,270 yards and 12 touchdowns. Neel accounted for over 900 yards of total offense and scored 11 rushing TDs. McKernan, a converted tight end, is expected to excel in the 2-back position, which is a hybrid running back/tight end position.
The Cougars did lose a lot defensively, but linebackers Ty Foley, Billy Brewer, Liam Barbee and Jacob Schachte have all had close to 100-tackle seasons. Those guys are the key. Although Catholic will be new in spots, they are still big up front and quick in the backfield. Watch Connor Daughtrey, Ariel Rodriguez and Davis Barnette as new full-time starters.
Sure, the characters have changed, but the Cougars are still an elite program under coach Brodowicz and will win a ton of games. Plus, when the weather gets cold, the Cougar run game takes over. They’re very tough to beat.
QB: Jake Smith; RB: Lamagea McDowell; 4-Back: Paul Neel; 2-Back/TE: Garrett McKernan; WR: Luke Lewis; TE: Ethan Major; LT: Malik McGowan; LG: Matthew Hayek; C: Davis Hodgens; RG: Carter Woody; and RT: Tate Macuga.
DE: Connor Daughtrey ; DE: Sean Butterfield; DT: Ariel Rodriguez; LB: Ty Foley; LB: Billy Brewer; LB: Jacob Schachte; LB: Liam Barbee; CB: Charlie Woeste; CB: Jack Gustafson; SS: Davis Barnette; and FS: Kevin Dumser.
P Ret: Garrett McKernan and K Ret: Paul Neel.
Gavin Turner (OG/DT); Ian Heyer (TE); Jimmy Brewer (RB); Sam Smith (RB); Gavin Zinkil (CB/S); and Carson Shea (CB).