The year 2020 may be slowly headed toward the rearview mirror as more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the numbers on those contracting the virus appear to be going down.
But for Cumberland football, the season being played in the spring of 2021 is still the 2020 season in a sense. In other words, the Phoenix are 0-3 and injuries are mounting with the losses.
“We’re really, really banged up,” Cumberland coach Tim Mathis said earlier this week. “We’ve had a lot of injuries. We’ve lost a bunch of kids for the year. That’s part of football, you lose kids all the time. But this is the worst year I’ve had.
“And playing in the spring, you’re not sure you’re going to have those kids next fall.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Wade Cartwright hasn’t played since the season opener when he sustained an ankle injury and Mathis wasn’t sure if he would be able to return this season. Redshirt junior Avery Harris has started the two games since and true freshman Brandon Edmondson took over in the second half of the Phoenix’s most recent game, two weeks ago against Georgetown.
“Brandon came in the second half of the last game and did a pretty good job, so we’ll be going with both of them,” Mathis said.
Cumberland lost 19-7 two weeks ago in a game similar in many ways to the opening 10-14 setback to Thomas More.
“The defense played, other than the first quarter and a half, played lights out,” Mathis said. “Offensively, it took us so long to get in a rhythm, and then it was too little too late.
“It’s been difficult rotating people in an out. It’s hard getting in a rhythm when you’re having to put in a new person.”
Tomorrow’s opponent, Lindsey Wilson, seems to be having no such problems. The No. 4-ranked Blue Raiders have won their games 49-0, 45-10 and 35-14. Two of them were over top-20 opponents.
“They’re a spread team,” Mathis said of the Blue Raiders. “They want to throw the ball a good bit. They want to run it a good bit, too. Everything runs through their quarterback (Cameron Dukes); he’s a good one.”
Dukes, a three-year stater, has completed 54 of 82 passes for 683 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions.
Lindsey Wilson may unveil a different looking defense in tomorrow’s 6 p.m. game at Nokes-Lasater Field than the Blue Raiders have rolled out in their three previous games.
“On paper, they are a 3-4, or a 50, defense,” Mathis said of the Raiders. “But against us last year they ran a 3-3.”
But after having a long week between games, followed by a short week in which icy weather kept the Phoenix from practicing outdoors, they at least have had a normal game week with nice weather following a scheduled bye, not a last-second one caused by COVID or the elements.
“If you’re going to play one of the top four teams in the country, it’s nice to have two weeks to prepare for them and two weeks in which we can practice,” Mathis said.