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Bearcats vs. Yellow Jackets (copy)

C-Z-R defender Tyler Thuilliez attempts to tackle Chester’s Demontae Martin during the first quarter a game earlier this season in Christopher.

CHRISTOPHER — With only two returning starters on offense and six seniors on the roster, the Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton Bearcats may be fighting an uphill battle in their quest to post a winning season this fall.

Returning are senior tight end/wide receiver turned quarterback, Cam Newton (no, not that guy on the Carolina Panthers), and senior running back Stephen Anderson. Both will play on defense, as well.

Also expected to start or push for playing time on both sides of the ball are senior running back Colton Phillips, senior tight end Derek Mueller, and senior offensive tackle Noah Huff.

A total of 14 seniors graduated from last year's 2-7 squad. Three additional projected starters have transferred to other schools this fall.

"It was definitely a downer to lose those three transfers, but we're going to do the best job that we can with what we have to work with," said sixth-year Bearcats head coach Josh McCurren. "We're a very young team and will have to play quite a few sophomores. The good news is that we have some talent in the lower ranks."

McCurren said C-Z-R just initiated a tackle program this year for kids in the fifth through eighth grades and as many as 80 signed up to compete.

"I'm hoping that we can build numbers and improve our competitiveness by starting to learn the fundamentals of the game in junior high rather than waiting til high school," McCurren said. "It's one step at a time for us right now."

Both of the Bearcats' wins last season came at the end of the schedule over Hamilton County and Vienna-Goreville.

Like his BDC coaching colleagues, McCurren believes Eldorado is the heavy favorite to win the league title this fall.

"They're loaded," he said. "They have some very good kids coming back. I also like Fairfield, Johnston City and Chester to contend. And I think Carmi and Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn will be improved. It should be a good race."

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les.winkeler@thesouthern.com / 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler

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Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton Bearcats roster 2016

Player Height Weight Position Class
Kaleb Pedigo 5-8 160 RB/DB Senior
Colton Phillips 5-11 170 RB/LB Senior
Cam Newton 6-0 165 QB/DB Senior
Steven Anderson 5-9 175 RB/DB Senior
Derek Mueller 5-10 190 TE/LB Senior
Andrew Dunford 5-8 165 G/DE Senior
Wardell Williams 5-10 205 T/DT Senior
Noah Huff 6-0 240 G/DT Senior
Preston Rider 5-9 175 RB/LB Junior
Jacob Steuhlmeyer 5-10 210 G/LB Junior
Dakota Duvall 5-10 190 C/DT Junior
Jacob Holdren 6-3 235 T/DT Junior
Dakota Shelton 6-2 180 TE/DE Junior
Antonio Parks 5-9 145 QB/DB Sophomore
Austin Norris 5-6 135 RB/DB Sophomore
Jason Cole 5-6 135 RB/DB Sophomore
Garrett Vanfossan 5-9 150 RB/DB Sophomore
Jeremiah Bright 5-8 145 RB/DB Sophomore
Casey Buckliew 6-08 190 RB/LB Sophomore
Duncan Reiger 5-7 155 C/DT Sophomore
Darrick Leiser 5-7 200 GDE Sophomore
Hunter Sizemore 6-0 170 G/DE Sophomore
Chris Lane 5-6 135 G/LB Sophomore
Dakota Chwarczinski 6-1 150 TE/DE Sophomore
Gabe Edwards 6-1 170 G/DE Sophomore
Treven Maier 5-8 170 T/DT Sophomore
Christian Shadowens 5-10 205 G/DT Sophomore
Jaxon Willis 5-6 130 C/DT Sophomore
Ryan Helfrich 5-6 130 C/DT Sophomore
Gavin Jay 5-7 155 T/DT Sophomore
Noah Harvey 5-9 160 TE/LB Sophomore
Frankey Rebolledo 5-9 170 TE/LB Sophomore
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