17KendallEvansEditor’s note: This is part of a series on Cumberland County high school spring football workouts.

A big senior class entering a football season is a plus, but when that year is over, it can be a major liability. Gray’s Creek football coach David Lovette is dealing with that harsh reality as his Bears lost 20 players who played a variety of key roles last season.

The good news is there were a lot of youth in the offensive line. Most of them return this year, along with the quarterback, who just happens to be Lovette’s son Ben. Ben threw for 729 yards in the Bears’ runoriented Wing-T offense.

Another key player returning is promising running back Jerry Garcia, who saw a lot of playing time last season and rolled up 529 yards and five touchdowns.

“It’s not like the cupboard is bare,’’ Lovette said of the graduation losses. “We’ll miss those guys, but a lot of them (the returners) have seen playing time.’’

Garcia has been timed electronically at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. “He’s one of those kids that if the weight room is open, he’s there,’’ Lovette said. “He’s a hard worker.’’

The Bears used much of the spring to put in a few changes to their system. “We’re doing the same things, just doing them differently,’’ Lovette said. Some changes are being made in the defense, and Lovette is still searching for a punter to complete the special teams.

One of the top defensive players back for the Bears is defensive end Kendall Evans. At 6-foot- 3 and 240 pounds, he’s being recruited by such schools as Wake Forest, North Carolina A&T, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State.

“I just want to work on my technique, my speed and my strength,’’ Evans said of the summer and fall workouts.

He feels the Bears need to focus on working together better as a team. “I think we did a lot better last year than we did previous years,’’ he said. “We didn’t have anyone selfish on our team. We were selling out for each other.’’

Last season the Bears were 7-5 and lost to Northern Durham in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A state playoffs.

Photo: Kendall Evans

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